Thursday, 4 September 2008

Rathlin Ferry Contract - The Investigations Begin

The investigations are under way. Paul Priestly has described one of the investigators, Steve Rowsell, as an independent procurement consultant. It would appear that he was 'liberated' from his post as Director of Procurement of the Highways Agency:

Highways Agency faces costs onslaught
16th Feb 2007
A big shake-up is on the cards at the Highways Agency as it prepares to face two damning repaorts due out shortly on massive road building cost overruns.

The Agency has already moved to head-off some of the criticism by making staff changes at the top. It has revealed that major projects director Keith Miller is to leave and procurement director Steve Rowsell left the Agency shortly before Christmas

The changes were provoked by a Commons transport select committee attack in July last year which expressed horror at the agency’s inability to control costs.

Photos and documents;

Adds September 9

Why were the first Rathlin ferry tender documents pruned and who benefited? Which of the two Government departments - DRD and DFP - initiated the pruning and which acquiesced?

Will the investigators be checking out the roles of Ministers and senior Civil Servants or will they limit themselves to the actions of minor officials? Will they be communicating with the Scottish and Irish governments on matters pertaining to them?

Did DRD officials carry out a feasibility study on the suitability of a catamaran on the turbulent seas of Rathlin Sound? Did they read Calmac, catamarans and rough seas?

"It is rarely noted that we already operate a small catamaran between Gourock and Dunoon, and all our experience and that of some Irish Sea operators is that a monohull will continue to run in bad weather when a catamaran has long been tied up due to MCA wave height restrictions."

"These views also seem to ignore the running costs of faster vessels because fuel consumption over water increases exponentially with speed."

The monohulled St Sorney, I'm told, missed an afternoon crossing from Rathlin on Tuesday, September 9, due to rough seas.

Does DRD really intend to introduce two new (£6.3m) monohulled ro-ro ferries on the route and, if so, is the short-term introduction of a catamaran merely a promotional gimic?

Adds September 11

The garbage trucks and yellow ponchos have (re)appeared out of the mist. Do they mirror their predecessors in every respect?

And there are other problems in the world of government tendering ...

Adds September 13

Both visits come after pledges by Regional Development Minister Conor Murphy that the island ferry is not under threat - News Letter

Government ministers and officials may be feeling a bit queasy but I'm unaware of any threat to the life-line ferry service.

[Search blog with 'rathlin ferry' for earlier stories]