Work stopped on aquatic centre

03:56, Feb 07 2013
All quiet: The deserted aquatic centre site.

The Kapiti plumbing company fitting out the $21 million Coastlands Aquatic Centre found out only yesterday through a news website that contractor Mainzeal was in receivership.

Thomas Plumbing and Gas owner Harold Thomas said a family member read of the receivership on at about 4.30pm on Waitangi Day.

‘‘My son Steve who looks after the day-to-day business, when he heard that he phoned the project manager and the project manager didn’t even know either.’’

The business was about three weeks from completing the plumbing and drainage for the project, Mr Thomas said.

‘‘What happens now is that, as of this morning, we’ve been locked off the site. I’ve got trucks, and diggers, and we can’t get in till we’ve done their [receiver PricewaterhouseCooper] paperwork that they’re asking for. We’ve got to fill in paperwork to get our own gear back.’’

Kapiti Coast District Council announced today work on the aquatic centre was suspended for 48 hours, and council staff were to meet receivers in Wellington.

The project was only seven weeks from its scheduled completion.

Council chief executive Pat Dougherty said the receivership announcement was  unexpected.

‘‘We are so nearly there with this project.  It is running to time and on budget and we have even confirmed the Governor General to open it at the end of March.  I really feel for our community, which has been waiting so long for this facility.’’

He said the aquatic centre would replace the 60-year-old Raumati Pool, which no longer served  the community’s needs.

‘‘It would make sense to do whatever is necessary to just push on and finish it.  That is certainly what we will be discussing with the receivers.’’

Meanwhile, Mr Thomas said there was no inkling onsite of any problems with Mainzeal.

‘‘We’ve been putting in for monthly payments but the payment that was due on January 20 – we were informed that it would be paid on February 6 [the day the receivership was announced]. How do you like that?’’

He said in nearly 40 years of business he had experienced nothing like the Mainzeal receivership.

About six staff have been at work on the drainage and plumbing for the project since the end of February last year.
Mr Thomas would not say how much was left owing to his business but it is a ‘‘substantial’’ amount.

Without the work, Thomas Plumbing would be ‘‘very pushed’’ to retain its staff levels, he said.

Mr Thomas said one option for the council was to take over the project itself, hiring managers to work on its behalf.

‘‘And I would hope they would come back to people like ourselves who have been involved, to talk about how we can get the rest of the job done.’’

He said he was told by the receiver that it is working on the basis there is no money left for unsecured creditors like subcontractors.

‘‘When I hear on the radio things like Jenny Shipley and all these people that were directors of this company resigned the night before – that really gets up my craw...they jump ship and leave the ordinary working people of New Zealand behind.’’

Mr Thomas said as far as he was aware, his was the only Kapiti Coast business working as a subcontractor.

Mainzeal project manager Elliott Bartley said he was instructed by the receivers not to comment.

Mainzeal won the contract to build the centre with a tender bid of $15m in December 2011, following a budget blow-out that pushed the cost up from $17m to $21m.

In November, work on a new car park for the revamped council headquarters, and a safety realignment of Paraparaumu’s Ngahina St were added to the Mainzeal contract.
The decision added $527,000, including $50,000 contingency cash, to the deal with Mainzeal.

The receivers have has set up a website page, which will regularly update developments


Closed up: Security guard Jason Halbert guards the main entrance to the Coastlands Aquatic Centre work site.

Kapiti Observer