Business in Cork is losing faith in the government’s ability to deliver key infrastructure projects following the latest delay to the Dunkettle Interchange Project, according to the Cork Chamber.
Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) confirmed on Thursday that it is to retender the construction phase of the project - a move that will see the completion date pushed back by around 12 months.
Cork Chamber hit out at the retendering of the project with CEO Conor Healy labelling the resultant delays “completely unacceptable”.
“In the former capital plan, Government had promised that Dunkettle would be completed by 2021,” he explained.
“This was subsequently extended to 2022 in the current capital plan, and today’s decision to retender the project extends the completion time to 2023.
“How can we now have confidence in this date?” he asked.
“The result of the decision to retender the project is that economic growth in Ireland’s second city region, a key element of the Ireland 2040 plan, will be held back for another two years at a minimum.”
Mr Healy warned the delays will also impact other strategic infrastructure projects in the region.
“The inability to complete key national infrastructure projects such as Dunkettle Interchange on time is an immense concern to our members,” he said.
“Serious questions need to be asked around the estimating process for the National Development Plan leading to unrealistic expectations around costs and the degree of appetite to deliver on projects which have been committed by the State.
“Business in Cork is losing faith in the ability of the government to deliver.”
Fianna Fáil Leader and TD for Cork South Central Micheál Martin said the delays would lead to more years of commuter chaos for the people of Cork.
“More than 100,000 cars pass through the Dunkettle junction every day and the fact that this project is going to be delayed yet again raised serious questions about the way this process has been handled,” said Deputy Martin.
“This upgrade was promised over five years ago but has been plagued by missed deadlines and increasing costs.
“The Transport Minister must clarify the degree to which he believes savings will be made as a result of this decision,” he added.
“He must also outline how the project was allowed to reach this sorry stage when red flags had been raised at various stages of the process.
“This project has been the victim of this government’s record of making large scale infrastructure announcements while not having the necessary funding available.
“Defer and delay has become the order of the day.
“We’re now looking at the end of 2023 before the upgrade works will be completed,” he said.
“That’s another three and a half years of commuter chaos for people in Cork.
“Cork is losing out as a result of this government’s complete mismanagement of capital projects.”
The Construction Industry Federation (CIF) and Cork politicians recently raised concerns over the possible impact delays in such projects could have in the economy in the southern region.
Costs for the Dunkettle Interchange are expected to go above the €100m originally estimated.
However, TII said the budget for the project is “committed and the value will be confirmed once the tendering process is completed”.
“An updated business case will be prepared when working to bring to Government for approval the award of the main works contract,” it added.