THE Office of Public Works (OPW) is investigating a problem regarding the “durability of the concrete” used in part of Fermoy’s €33 million flood prevention project.
The OPW said the contractor working on the project had discovered the problem in a section of flood defences on the northern side of the Co Cork town.
The problem was spotted by contractors Carillion Irishenco during routine quality control tests.
An OPW spokesman claimed only a small part of the works had been affected, but admitted it could take weeks to rectify.
Deputy Ned O’Keeffe described the news as “an appalling state of affairs” and said he would be raising the issue in the Dáil with Martin Mansergh, the minister in charge of the OPW.
“The town has already suffered with severe disruption, especially its businesses. It’s outrageous,” Mr O’Keeffe added.
The OPW said it hoped to keep added disruption necessitated by repairs to a minimum and would make no further comment.
More than 70 houses and businesses in the town have been affected by flooding over the years, most notably in Brian Boru Square.
Richie O’Flynn, whose family runs the Avondhu bar in the square, said he was very annoyed at what had happened and believed local businesses should be compensated for the added disruption.
“Mistakes like this shouldn’t happen in this day and age. Last November we had four feet of water in the bar and it cost me €10,000.
“We were flooded again in January and I can’t get any insurance.
“There is serious traffic disruption in the town because of the flood relief works and this will lead to even more of it,” Mr O’Flynn said.
“This is terrible news. I’ll be lucky to break even this year,” he added.
Michael Hanley, chairman of Fermoy Enterprise Board, said it was unfortunate that the town would suffer even more pain as a result of the latest problem.
However, he said the OPW and their contractor should be congratulated for their honesty in acknowledging that the problem existed.
“They have to be given credit for not ignoring the problem, especially considering the serious financial constraints pertaining in this country at the moment,” he said.
Mr Hanley, who is also chairman of the town council’s traffic sub-committee, said that in the long term Fermoy would benefit from the project.
Representatives from the OPW, town council and gardaí are set to meet on Monday to discuss the fallout from the announcement.
Phase one of the flood relief project is currently under way on the northern side of the town. The larger works, on the southern side, are expected to start early next year.
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