Bridge safety fears in the City of Busselton

THE Australian Steel Institute states the City of Busselton has provided residents with “cheap and unsafe” bridges from China.

A report has been put together by Melbourne based company, Galvanizers Association of Australia and highlights the poor fabrication and galvanizing practice of the Buayanup Drain Bridge, the Toby Inlet Bridge and the Vasse Diversion Drain Bridge.

The Australian Steel Institute state manager James England requested the report as he was worried about the bridges and wanted them to be assessed by a specialist bridge engineer.

Mr England said hazards were spotted in the design, welding, general workmanship and galvanising which indicated compliance and longevity issues.

“There is the issue of double standards in procurement, this project was sent out for tender to local firms who bid in the expectation they were on a level playing field,” Mr England said. 

“Government should be seen to be an informed and exemplary purchaser setting a good example to private enterprise, this is anything but a good example and local firms have a right to feel cheated.

“By bringing this issue out we may alert people to the need to take a greater interest in public works.”

The pedestrian foot bridges contract was awarded to Osborne Park based Genova Project Solutions but they were fabricated in China by the Austruct Industries Pty Ltd.

Austruct Industries Pty Ltd General Manager Sun Bin said he acknowledged there were some quality issues which occurred at the galvanisation stage in China.

“All these galvanising issues could be rectified but there was not enough time before the shipment,” Mr Bin said.  

“It was agreed to rectify them in Australia and our client was fully aware of the situation.”

After the steel components arrived in Australia, Mr Bin said they were taken to a local fabricator for inspection and to be rectified.

“All parties including the City of Busselton, Genova and the owner of the local fabricator and an Austruct representative did a full inspection,” he said.

“As far as I know, these issues were rectified before they were installed.”

Genova Project Solutions manager Dirk Baumgartel said the bridges were fabricated by a recognised company with substantial experience having provided steel to the Western Australian resources industry as well as the City of Perth.

“The bridges were designed and fabricated to Australian Standards by Registered Professional Engineers,” Mr Baumgartel said.

“Genova complied 100 per cent with its contractual commitments to the City of Busselton in all respects.”

Director of Engineering and Works Services Oliver Darby said officers received a copy of the Galvanizers Association Australia review via a councillor.

“The Australian Steel Industry clearly advocates for Australian fabrication only,” Mr Darby said.

 “The city went through a robust and fair procurement process to secure tenders for the construction of these three bridges.

“The workmanship was in accordance with Australian Standards and we are happy with the final product.”

 Mr Darby said city officers had not been approached by the author of this “industry-driven” review and many of the images used in it were taken prior to corrective work being undertaken as part of the bridge supply contract.

“A number of the images supposedly indicating poor quality are actually of Australian fabricated steel,” he said.

“In the most part the comments raised are aesthetic in nature.

“We live in a global economy and these bridges which are constructed from a combination of Australian and overseas fabricated steel represent good value for money for the city.”

He said the bridges would require ongoing maintenance but the city expected them to have a conservative life span of around 25 to 30 years on the basis that appropriate maintenance was carried out.

“The structural suitability of these structures and their ongoing maintenance is the city’s responsibility, not that of any third party.”

Have your say, are you worried about the safety of the Buayanup Drain Bridge, the Toby Inlet Bridge and the Vasse Diversion Drain Bridge? Email laura.newey@fairfaxmedia.com.au. 

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