The construction firm for the new children’s hospital has confirmed it will resume work on-site from Monday following “robust” communications with the hospital development board after a dispute over costs due to Covid-19 delays.
The confirmation by Bam came late last night after the Taoiseach and Health Minister made a direct appeal during the day to “get back on site” and resume building work on the National Children’s Hospital.
The long-awaited €1.7bn hospital was facing further delays following a dispute between the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board (NPHDB) and the contractor, Bam, over additional costs associated with closing and reopening the site during the Covid-19 outbreak.
The site closed on March 31 under Covid-19 restrictions and has not reopened since, despite restrictions being lifted on the construction sector on May 18.
Earlier yesterday Bam said ex-gratia payments were made to contractors on public works and that it should be compensated for additional costs arising from Covid-19 delays.
The hospital development board, however, later clarified that it was a “bespoke” and not a public contract and an ex-gratia payment mechanism did not apply.
The board urged the construction firm to restart works “without further delay”.
In a statement, the NPHDB said a claims mechanism was open to Bam to make Covid-19 related claims.
“Any Covid-related claims can be put forward under this mechanism,” the board said. “Whilst this process is ongoing, in accordance with the contract, the NPHDB has been clear in its expectation that the main contractor should meet its contractual obligation by returning to the site without further delay.”
Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Health Minister Stephen Donnelly also intervened to make a direct appeal to the contractor to get back on site.
The Taoiseach told reporters he was “angry” and “annoyed” by the delays and called on all those involved to resolve their differences and “get back on the site”.
“It’s unacceptable, in my view, what has happened here,” he said. “And I would say to people to get back on site and start building the children’s hospital.”
Also speaking to reporters Mr Donnelly said there were always ongoing issues between boards and developers but there were processes in place to resolve them.
“The very clear message is please get back on site, the children of Ireland need a new children’s hospital, and I don’t see how anything is served by this ongoing delay,” Mr Donnelly said.
Last night, Bam said that it would resume works in “good faith” on Monday and with a view to completing the new children’s hospital “as quickly and economically as possible”.
“Bam has confirmed to the Hospital Board that it intends to resume works on site from Monday next. It does this in good faith, following robust communication with the board and in the interest of completing the project as quickly and economically as possible,” a Bam spokesman said.
issues, there always will be between boards and developers. There are processes in place for those to be resolved.”