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Thursday, April 15, 2021

A tender spot: Gungahlin pool repairs to cost more than $1.5 million

Repairs to the Gungahlin Leisure Centre swimming pool will cost $1.52 million, according to a tender released last week. The ACT Government has contracted Kynetic to repair the 50-metre pool, closed for almost a year, at a cost of $1,519,200.

The pool builder, ADCO Constructions, is only paying a fifth of the repairs ($400,000) – a commercial settlement reached apparently to avoid a protracted court case keeping the pool closed indefinitely, Yvette Berry, Minister for Sport and Recreation, and Duncan Edghill, chief projects officer of Major Projects Canberra, said in Estimates earlier this month.

Canberra Weekly asked Ms Berry’s office whether it was fair for the ACT Government – and taxpayers – to pay four times as much. We await a response.

In Estimates, Ms Berry said the Gungahlin Pool could reopen by summer. Some commentators are concerned that the contract estimates the pool will be completed on 4 October 2022.

The repairs are still expected to be completed this calendar year, a government spokesperson said; the contract expiry date reflects the inclusion of an ordinary post-completion phase.

Kynetic will begin work very shortly to remove the pool tiles and install a new tiling system, in an effort to reopen the pool before the end of the year, the spokesperson said.

Kynetic is a fully pre-qualified contractor with the ACT Government, and has previously worked on other government projects, a spokesperson said.

The new tiling system was recommended by experts to provide the best chance to minimise the risk of this happening again, a spokesperson said. The contract with Kynetic includes standard contractual requirements for responsibility after completion.

The government will provide regular updates to the community through the pool operator and the Gungahlin Community Council as works progress.

Liberal and Green MLAs, however, have complained that the government has not been transparent. ACT Government officials finalised the contract with Kynetic on Wednesday 10 March; that evening, Ms Berry attended a Gungahlin Community Council meeting.

According to Leanne Castley MLA (Liberals), Ms Berry could not tell the meeting how much the contract would cost; if Kynetic was a Canberra company; how long the warranty would be; or if Kynetic would incur penalties if they run overtime.

Ms Berry said she did not have the final figure to hand.

Ms Castley said: “The government approached Kynetic to do the job and signed with them yesterday, so it does not appear credible the Minister did not have the cost at the meeting I attended last night.”

Greens MLA Andrew Braddock was also underwhelmed by Ms Berry’s response. “Local people really care about getting the pool back online. We need the government to be as upfront as possible with the community, so it was disappointing the Minister couldn’t tell us this figure at Wednesday’s Gungahlin Community Council meeting, when it’s come to light less than a day later through the media.”

After the event, a government spokesperson said the contract price has been made publicly available. “The ACT Government continues to resolve issues associated with the Gungahlin Pool in a transparent and open way,” they said.

Ms Castley claimed that although Ms Berry told the Gungahlin meeting she wanted the process to be transparent, neither the contract with the original builder nor three reports to government by structural engineers and tiling experts about the pool’s problems were publicly available.

“There are still so many unanswered questions, and it is clear from this entire process Canberrans cannot have confidence in this process or the Minister,” Ms Castley said.

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