Walls pier will be finished next year, harbour board told

Work on the Walls pier is to finally be completed by early 2014, the council’s harbour board has been told.

Contractor Frank L Johnston (Shetland) Ltd started work on the site in April 2012, with an agreed completion date at the end of June this year.

But progress on piling was slower than first thought and the completion date could not be achieved, members were told.

A new date was set for the end of August, but this was too optimistic to complete all the work following the completion of the piling.

A number of elements have been finished, members were told – including the ferry pontoon and walkway and the construction of the pilling and capping beam.

The work will remain on budget as well.

But Amanda Westlake raised concerns about how long the project had taken to complete and said delays were “unacceptable”.

Director of infrastructure Maggie Sandison admitted there had been various delays but this had not meant any increase in costs.

Robert Henderson said under the current contractor, the council was getting “a very good job” and they should not be “getting hung up” on timescales.

He added work had been carried out by a previous contractor but Frank L Johnston was appointed to complete the work.

Ms Westlake said “time is of the essence” and it was important to stick to timescales.

She asked if any fines would be incurred by the contractors for the delay and Mrs Sandison said she would make enquiries.

Ms Westlake admitted after the meeting while Frank L Johnston was a good contractor, she was “a stickler on contracts” and there was a clear procurement process the council has to follow.

Contractors should abide by the timescale agreed, she said.
The first contractor on the project Airport Civil Engineering, left after six months.

The original pier is more than 100 years old and was built to accommodate the Orkney and Shetland steam navigation steamers, but is now used largely for fishing vessels.

Aquaculture has been the main activity in the last ten years – the value of salmon and mussels landed across the pier was more than £2 million last year.

The idea of a new pier and breakwater began with pier users in 2002 – as the existing pier is extremely exposed and boats cannot be left in the easterly winds.

Regular meetings of the pier users’ group – made up of boat owners and the aquaculture industry were held until 2009 to get to the “project” stage with designs prepared.

Work began in 2011.
The initial price for the pier was above £3 million but under the new contractors it has been brought below £3 million.

Vessels would still be berthed there, he said and the pier would be used for “lighter activities”.


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