Merimbula airport works contractor bites the dust

Earthworks during the airport runway renewal.

Earthworks during the airport runway renewal.

The Canberra-based construction company, Hewatt Earthworks, that was contracted by the Bega Valley Shire Council last year to undertake the $5.7 million airport runway renewal project, has gone into voluntary administration.

The works on the 1602-metre-long Merimbula Airport runway involved building a 300mm overlay on the 55-year-old runway with shape correction, widening the taxiway and apron and the installation of a new runway lighting system and drainage.

Council general manager Leanne Barnes, in response to News Weekly questions on what implications Hewatt’s problems may have for the council said: “This does have some contractual implications for council as the runway renewal works continue to be within the defects liability period until November 2014.”

Ms Barnes said that council has been in contact with the appointed administrator seeking assurances that they will continue to meet their contractual commitments.

“The administrator has yet to fully assess the situation, and council will continue to work with the appointed company to achieve the best possible outcome.

“From council’s point of view any future maintenance will continue to be responded to in a timely manner and retention monies held can and will be utilised for this purpose,” Ms Barnes said.

Hewatt Earthworks, which formally entered voluntary administration with Sydney-based PPB Advisory on Thursday, employed more than 200 full-time workers and had a history of working on ACT government, Canberra Airport and Royal Australian Navy projects. 

Hewatt was contracted by the Downer Group, an international construction company, to work on the $361 million Boco Rock Wind Farm near Nimmitabel, south of Cooma, in July 2012.

Boco Rock Wind Farm manager Adrian Oakley confirmed Hewatt’s financial problems had affected the renewable energy project, but said management was yet to confirm the extent of delays with a meeting scheduled for  Wednesday morning.

“We’re currently trying to assess the impact of the news and how we’re going to deal with this development,” he said.

Hewatt Earthworks had been contracted by Downer Group to carry out major earthworks, excavation and drainage work and laying 69 kilometres of pavement at the Nimmitabel site.

PPB partner Chris Hill said Hewatt Earthworks was no longer financially able to support its 200 full-time employees who were stood down on Thursday.

PPB’s first meeting with creditors is on May 20. 

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