CONSTRUCTION OF Wembley Stadium was 'out of control' just seven months into the steelwork contract, according to steel subcontractor Cleveland Bridge (CBUK), the High Court heard this week.
CBUK managing director Brian Rogan also claimed that the project had changed so much over the two years from September 2002 that the £60M fixed price contract had to be renegotiated.
Rogan told the court, 'I've never been involved with a project so out of control and so mismanaged by a main contractor.' He added that due to late and incomplete design drawings submitted by structural engineer Mott Stadium Consortium, the project involved more changes than any other he had worked on in his 35 years' experience.
The case between Multiplex and Cleveland Bridge is currently in full swing at the Technology and Construction Court. Each company claims that the other has fundamentally breached its contract and is claiming costs against the other (NCE 27 April).
Rogan claimed in court that in April 2003, CBUK was asked to accelerate the two-year programme by seven months and that the only way to achieve this was to replace the fixed price contract with a new cost plus agreement.
Emails sent from Rogan to other members of his team and presented in court, alleged that engineers on the project were 'incompetent' and 'the main contractor knew nothing about steel.' However, Multiplex construction manager David Watkins told Justice Jackson in court last Wednesday that CBUK caused the majority of project delays because it had only spent four and a half hours a week fabricating steelwork at the beginning of its contract. This meant that only 30-50t of steel was fabricated every week rather than the required 300t, he said.
Watkins also claimed that CBUK was exaggerating the delays borne from late design drawings. He added that CBUK's performance was also blighted by poor management which meant that steel arrived at site in the wrong order, was often unlabelled and therefore could not be erected.
He also accused CBUK of changing progress reports: 'CBUK also made retrospective changes to erection rates [it had previously already reported on].
Things changed on a monthly basis. That's why we had so many problems, ' said Watkins.
Multiplex's steelwork project engineer Ran McGregor also claimed that CBUK's Darlington fabrication facility had been overbooked and that there was insufficient space to manufacture enough steel to meet contractual requirements.
He alleged that further delays arose because CBUK shipped some of its fabrication work to steel contractor Shanghai Grand Tower in China. But because the design drawings were late in being passed on to CBUK, this in turn meant that SGT was unable to fabricate the steel. It then had to be shipped back to the UK and reincorporated into fabrication at Darlington. The case continues.