Nearly complete aquatic centre in limbo

The Kapiti Aquatic Centre is due to open the end of March, with new traffic lights to help manage traffic into the centre.
The Kapiti Aquatic Centre is due to open the end of March, with new traffic lights to help manage traffic into the centre.

Completion of the long-awaited $21.1 million aquatic centre in Paraparaumu hangs in the balance as unpaid contractors have been barred from the site, and are unable to retrieve their tools and machinery.

The centre is 85 per cent completed and Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae is scheduled to open it on March 30.

But yesterday the site was shut for the rest of the week after Mainzeal Property and Construction went into receivership.

Representatives from Kapiti Coast District Council and receiver PricewaterhouseCoopers met last night and agreed that their preference was to complete the centre.

"Everyone wants it completed," council spokeswoman Tamsin Evans said. However, information was still unclear on how much was owed and a further meeting would be held on Monday.

Nadine Williams, a PwC manager, earlier told contractors barred from the property to fill out forms documenting tools and machinery they had on site, saying they would probably get them back on Monday.

"We are going to put everything together in a pile. We have to make sure if there is one compressor, there are not five guys claiming one compressor."

She said: "There are some people owed a significant amount of money . . . we know you need your tools for other potential jobs.

"We hope to get something sorted quickly so you and the client can carry on and get it all finished."

She did not know when contractors would be paid. She told them: "If the receivers ask you back, you will be paid."

The council has paid out about $11m of its $17.8m contribution to the project. The Kapiti Aquatic Centre Trust is due to contribute the rest.

Council chief executive Pat Dougherty said the receivership announcement was unexpected. "We are so nearly there . . . it is running to time and on budget.

"I really feel for our community which has waited so long for this facility . . . it would make sense to push on and finish it."

The council said its lawyer had advised that it could not insure against a company going into receivership.

Jacobs Construction spokesman Lance Jacobs said he was owed a lot of money and had five overseas workers "sitting in a motel", waiting to find out whether they would have to be sent home.

The men, from the Netherlands and Turkey, were working on the main pool's moveable floor and on installing the hydroslide.

"It is the Kapiti ratepayers who will suffer - no-one else can do this work," Mr Jacobs said. "Until we are paid we do not want to come back on site."

PCL Asphalt and Civil Construction Specialists spokesman Luke Lee said the firm was about halfway through the $1m car park.

He had 12 men on the project and had not been paid since December. "We are trying to remain positive and hope the council will complete it."

Euro Tilers owner Mark Spiekerman said he would go broke and five staff would be made redundant if he was not paid $100,000 he was owed.

"My bank accounts are dry.

"I've put all my time and effort into this project for the last two months and haven't received one cent."

He estimated there were up to 50 contractors working on the site.

The Dominion Post