Eden attenuator out for competitive tender

Port of Eden Marine committee members at Snug Cove.
Port of Eden Marine committee members at Snug Cove.

Following a much higher than expected tender for Eden's Snug Cove attenuator there were fears it might not go ahead as planned but now the project - with some changes - is back out to the market for a fully competitive tender.

Secretary of POEM (Port of Eden Marine) Dr Rob Bain has welcomed the news that competitive tenders will be sought for the attenuator, for which the group has long campaigned.

The market process that was run by the former NSW Department of Industry in 2018 resulted in the government receiving a price of around $30m for the $19m budgeted project. Waterway Construction had successfully undertaken the Eden wharf extension and was pre-selected to work on the attenuator.

But Waterway Construction's parent company, the Keller Group, flagged a business restructure due to its financial situation in November 2018. By mid 2019 it announced the company was ceasing operations and would not start any new contracts.

Now Transport for NSW (TfNSW) has issued pre-tender information for the construction of a 366m fixed panel wave attenuator to the design agreed in 2018 and Dr Bain said he has been told enquiries have already been received about the project.

Tendering for the project which has a budget of $19m will take place over a six week period from November this year.

However one of the important changes from 2018 is that the budget is intended to cover only the construction of the attenuator.

The previous foray into the market sought to have construction and whole of life costs covered by the $19m budget. TfNSW has said that with any infrastructure project, maintenance and other whole of life costs are an important consideration for government as the asset owner, but these costs would be funded separately by government.

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Dr Bain said this change "almost guarantees that the project will come in under $19m".

"Given the current situation with less private work available, a lot more construction companies will be looking for work," he said.

TfNSW has said it will own the design risk for the attenuator.

"Contractors will be heavily reliant on detailed site specific information held by TfNSW including the wave climate and geotechnical data. In particular, TfNSW has data detailing the effects of large tug boats operating in close proximity, along with the complex loads generated by wash from cruise ship propulsion systems.

"These are unique engineering challenges that are not encountered on typical wave attenuator projects. It is unreasonable and uneconomic for contractors to not be able to rely on this detailed information and therefore have to complete their own studies and investigations.

"This heavy reliance on TfNSW owned information means that TfNSW will continue to own the design risk regardless of the contracting model. Once constructed, the attenuator will be owned and maintained by TfNSW on behalf of the NSW community," TfNSW said.

Although all contractors will need to submit a complying response including a price for supply and installation of the design provided by TfNSW, alternative design solutions which contractors believe offer better value for money, will be considered by TfNSW on their merits.

Dr Bain said the attenuator would be a piece of infrastructure that would be the backbone for commercial development, fishing and recreation in Snug Cove.

"We were very pleased when the Minister (Andrew Constance) announced the tenders would take place but as with all these things the devil can be in the detail. So we won't be opening the champagne until the tender is let," Dr Bain said.

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