Webuild, NRW sue GHD over $1.86bn Airport Link works

08/07/2021 - 14:48

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The head contractors for the state government’s troubled $1.86 billion Forrestfield Airport Link are suing engineering consultancy GHD, claiming it failed to prepare an adequate design concept.

Webuild, NRW sue GHD over $1.86bn Airport Link works
Webuild and NRW were the head contractors on the state government’s $1.86b Airport Link project. Photo: Supplied

The head contractors for the state government’s troubled $1.86 billion Forrestfield Airport Link are suing engineering consultancy GHD, claiming it was negligent in failing to prepare an adequate design concept.

Global construction company Webuild, formerly Salini Impregilo, and NRW Holdings formed a joint venture to bid for and carry out the design, construction and maintenance of the Airport Link project.

The proposal, first put forward by the Barnett government before becoming part of the McGowan government’s flagship METRONET project, involved the construction of an 8.5 km rail line between Perth Airport and Forrestfield and was due to be completed in late 2020. 

But the project has been fraught with construction issues and delays, the most significant of which was a sinkhole which brought construction to a halt in 2018 and was believed to have been caused by construction defects in the grout block of a cross passage tunnel.

The line is now not expected to be operational until the first half of 2022.

According to a writ lodged in the Supreme Court, the joint venture appointed GHD as the lead consultant in July 2015, tasking the consultancy with coordinating engineering, geotechnical and architectural design concepts and submitting them to the state’s Public Transport Authority.

The joint venture submitted the tender bid in November 2015 and was awarded the project by the PTA in April 2016.

But the two companies claim GHD breached the tender design agreement and was negligent in failing to exercise a reasonable degree of skill and diligence in the preparation of the tender.

Further, the two parties claim GHD engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct by making misrepresentations about its experience, competence and capability - alleging that the cross passages were not designed in accordance with the required scope of works and technical criteria.

Webuild and NRW claim they suffered a loss upon completing the works as a result of the alleged negligence and are now suing GHD for breaching a contract, negligence and legal costs.

The writ does not divulge how much the two companies are seeking in damages.

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