The head of construction firm, BAM Ireland, has called for the early involvement of contractors in major public projects to help provide better cost certainty and better outcomes for taxpayers’ money.
BAM is the main contractor for the €1.4bn National Children’s Hospital project in Dublin, which has been dogged with controversy over soaring building costs, and is also the preferred bidder for some €40m in state-aid for the delivery of the long-delayed Cork event centre.
Company boss Theo Cullinane said people have seen the problems caused by the reliance on “adversarial public contracts and processes” - something, he said, BAM has been flagging for many years.
But despite reporting pre-tax profits of some €14m last year, Mr Cullinane pointed to a number of ongoing issues for the construction sector, which he said "continues to remain in a fragile state".
“Little progress has been made on delivering much-needed infrastructural projects. Margins remain far too low and make reinvestment difficult," he said.
“We have all seen the problems caused by the reliance on adversarial public contracts and processes, confirmed by the PwC report, which is something BAM has been flagging for many years.
“This has the real potential to cast doubt over the Government’s ability to deliver the Project Ireland 2040 plans, especially if large international firms are not willing to partner on their delivery.
“I welcome the recent comments by the Department of Public Expenditure that these are to be reviewed and would strongly recommend the adoption of ‘early contractor involvement’ in major public projects of scale.
He made his comments as the company reported 2018 turnover of €523.6m, up 13% on the year before, and pre-tax profits of €14m.
Last year, BAM completed One Microsoft Place, the new office campus in Leopardstown for 2,000 Microsoft staff, it started work on the massive HQ regeneration scheme on Cork’s Horgan Quay, it completed the near 90-metre Air Traffic Visual Control Tower at Dublin Airport, the country’s tallest occupied structure, and it was confirmed as main contractor for Phase B of the national children’s hospital.
It is building student apartments on the former Beamish and Crawford site in Cork, next to the events centre site, and it is building 360,000 sq ft of office space at Navigation Square, also in Cork.
It built the N25 New Ross bypass and the 900-metre 'extradosed' bridge over the River Barrow. Due to open soon, it will be the longest bridge in Ireland, and the longest bridge of its kind in the world.
It also signed off on several courthouse and school building PPP bundles around the country which are now in their 25-year maintenance period.