Deadline looms for Marystown ferry contract

James McLeod
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Cost-overrun issue must be solved, premier says

Premier Kathy Dunderdale speaks to reporters about the province’s plans for building new ferries. The government has said that if it doesn’t work out a deal with the shipyard in Marystown to build a new ferry, it will look at awarding the contract outside the province. — Photo by James McLeod/The Telegram

The government has drawn a line in the sand when it comes to the contract to build a new ferry at the shipyard in Marystown.

If a dispute over cost-overruns for building medium-sized provincial ferries isn’t resolved by the end of the week, Premier Kathy Dunderdale said Tuesday, the province would look outside the province to get the vessel built.

“You hear day after day complaints about ferries breaking down. It’s been an issue here for the House of Assembly,” Dunderdale told reporters.

“We need to be able to push and resolve this issue in negotiation if we can. If not, we have to go somewhere else and get our ferries built.”

The province wanted three medium-sized ferries to be built by Kiewit in Marystown. The first two were built, but they went millions of dollars over budget.

Kiewit has been pushing for an agreement to be paid more for the first two ferries before it starts on the contract to build the third one.

Last week, Transportation Minister Tom Hedderson said the government was negotiating with Kiewit, but Dunderdale said Tuesday enough is enough.

“We want this work to be done here in Newfoundland and Lab-rador, and we particularly want this work to be done in Marystown, given the economic circumstances that they’re facing at the moment.

“However, the ferries can’t be built in the province at any cost. They cannot,” she said.

Dunderdale indicated if the impasse can’t be broken by the end of the week, the government will move towards contracting somebody outside the province to build the ferry.

A representative from Kiewit would only say it’s still negotiating with the government.

‘Can’t invalidate bidding process’

“We are negotiating in good faith with the government and are confident that we can find a mutually agreeable resolution to these issues,” said Thomas C. Janssen, director of external affairs for Kiewit.

But it seems like the cost-overruns on the first two ferries amounted to millions of dollars on top of the more than $27 million that the government already paid for them.

Dunderdale said the government won’t be willing to just go head and pay whatever cost-overruns happen.

“The bidding process has to mean something,” she said. “You know, you can’t invalidate a whole bidding process by putting in the lowest bid and then coming in after the fact with millions and millions of dollars of overruns and saying, ‘Pay us.’”

This marks the second time in two weeks the provincial government has announced that it’s looking outside the province to get a ferry built.

Last week, Hedderson announced that the government will be inviting expressions of interest from around the world when it comes to building a large ferry for the Fogo Island and Change Islands run.

At the time, Hedderson said he hopes the ferry will be built in Marystown as well, but he said it might make more sense to get it done elsewhere.

Twitter: TelegramJames

Organizations: Newfoundland and Lab

Geographic location: Marystown, Fogo Island, Change Islands

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Recent comments

  • William Daniels
    May 11, 2012 - 08:31

    If the government cannot manage a project this size just imagine what will happen with Muskrat Falls.

  • mcscotty
    May 11, 2012 - 00:15

    Dunderdale knows these losers and how they operate better than most. Pull the plug on em, Premier.

  • KD
    May 09, 2012 - 13:53

    Its time for the workers at marystown to realize they are now employed by a private co not the taxpayers of nl by this i mean they need to work and not try to slow the job to keep people employed that attitude which exists not only at marystown but other areas as well. The gov should have gone outside the province for quotes and spend taxpayers wisely thats what they were elected for

  • gary
    May 09, 2012 - 10:43

    Muskrat; Don't know what u had with your coffee this AM, but this write up has nothing to do with the fishery... I for one do agree with the Gov this time... U bid a job and get it, then after u are done ask for more money... HA, what would u say if u put your car in for service and they tell u it will cost $100, but when u pick it up the bill is $600... They tell u they did not take into account they had to pay the service guy. This is the same thing that Kiewit is doing. They bid low so they can get the job, then try to cover their butts after the fact. I for one would love to get the work done in NL, but when you are spending our Tax dollars on contracts and then find out that they want more money after the bid contract process, you have to draw the line... When they (Kiewit) accepted the contract, they knew they have to agree to this. It is just sad that this is going to affect the workers in Marystown...

  • The Muskrat Fish
    May 09, 2012 - 07:37

    This is another mess the dunerheads have gotten us into. It just shows what don't know about our 500 year old fishery and the results speak for themselves. So whats the difference between so called educated steve and cathy conservatives running the fishery then and bunch of old puppets with coat tails?...There ya go!