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THE Spanish contractor building the CBD to South East light rail project wants a whopping extra $340 million from the state government to finish the $2.1 billion project.
And the government has so far countered with an offer less than $100 million, sources have confirmed to The Daily Telegraph.
A stoush is now shaping between Acciona, the Spanish company building the project in a consortium with other companies, and Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Transport Minister Andrew Constance.
One transport government source said: “This is a desperate move from an extremely greedy contractor.
“Even their consortium partners have put their hands up in … embarrassment.”
The Daily Telegraph revealed yesterday that the contractor was after hundreds of millions more for alterations to the route the government has made to the project, as well as from the discovery of extra utility connections and wires underground after digging up George St in the CBD.
Ms Berejiklian has already been accused of bungling the project because of a blowout in the project cost from $1.6 billion to $2.1 billion when she was transport minister.
Last November, two months before she became premier, Ms Berejiklian was accused of misleading taxpayers by claiming the $500 million light rail cost blowout was the result of “huge wins” in capacity on the project. An Auditor-General’s report released then found the blowout was due to “omissions and misprising”.
Acting Opposition Leader Michael Daley said yesterday of the revelations around the contractor’s hefty demands: “Every taxpayer in NSW is now footing the bill for Gladys Berejiklian’s inability to plan and deliver major projects.
“The amounts are staggering and the fact she’s doing contortions to try and (defend) this project just makes things worse.”
The government is understood to be furious at the contractor for attempting to gouge more money out of the state government for the project amid claims the contractor had underbid in the first place and was trying to make up for it.
Transport Minister Andrew Constance would not comment yesterday other than to say: “Modifications and claims on large infrastructure projects are normal business and are worked through with the contractor on a commercial basis. I’ve been advised work continues on George St and the rest of the line as normal.”
However, Premier Berejiklian said of the project at a press conference yesterday: “We get regular briefings and, as far as we appreciate, the project’s on time and on budget and we’re looking forward to the next stages.”
Mr Constance boasted at the same press conference: “Incredible progress is happening … Ultimately, the advice we’ve got is the project’s tracking to time.
“There’s been commentary today in relation to (light rail consortium) ALTRAC’s saying they’re going to deliver in early 2019.
“As with any ongoing contractual negotiation involving the light rail project, we’ve made some modifications and they’re going to be subject to contract discussions, as you would always expect.
“Ultimately, we’ve been advised nothing to the contrary in terms of tracking to budget and my expectation as Infrastructure and Transport Minister is that this project will be delivered on time and on budget.”
A spokesman for Acciona said all inquiries had to go to the consortium, ALTRAC. An ALTRAC spokesman last night said: “Any commercial arrangements under the SLR (Sydney Light Rail) Deed are commercial in confidence.”