Are Scots Government money woes root of ‘glacial’ pace on A9 work? Contractors certainly think so
First Minister Humza Yousaf has admitted significant challenges lay ahead to finance the A9 dualling project.
It comes after a major industry body suspects Transport Scotland of moving at “glacial” pace due to a lack of cash.
Tomorrow, the petitions committee is due to hear evidence on A9 campaigner Laura Hansler’s call for an inquiry into the missed A9 deadline to have the Inverness-Perth section dualled by 2025, amid an explosive submission from the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA).
CECA says the contract Transport Scotland uses to procure road projects is considered a “dated, unattractive anomaly” and as a result “Transport Scotland is regarded by CECA members across the UK as the worst client to work for in the UK”.
Suspicion amongst contractors
“The civil engineering sector in Scotland - contractors and consultants - have known for many years that the promise to dual the section of the A9 between Perth and Inverness by 2025 would not be met,” the association added.
“Only two out of the 11 identified sections of the A9 have been completed in the twelve years since the commitment was made by the Scottish Government in 2011 to dual the A9 between Perth and Inverness.
“The pace at which design and development work and subsequent road orders for each of the eleven sections has been carried out can be best described as being glacial. There is a suspicion amongst contractors that this slow pace has been deliberate as there has been insufficient budget allocated to allow these sections to be procured.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said in response: “Transport Scotland has a long record of successful procurement which balances the need to attract competition from the market place with protecting the public purse. While the design and build works contract has been successfully implemented for over 20 years, they do acknowledge that recent years have seen a decline in the number of tenderers, in part due to the terms and conditions set out in the contract, including risk transfer.
A market engagement exercise has been undertaken with industry partners, including CECA, to consider changes to better reflect current market conditions and risks to maximise interest and competition ahead of the new procurement for the A9 Dualling: Tomatin to Moy project.
“Transport Scotland welcomes CECA’s contribution as an interested party as it considers the most appropriate approach to balancing the need to generate effective tender competition with the importance of protecting the public purse. This is a complex process, and we need to carefully guard against any unintended consequences.”