10 May 2023

TMR passes buck on boat ramp issues

| Cape York Weekly
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EVERYONE is to blame for the substandard Evans Landing boat ramp and pontoon except the owner of the infrastructure, according to the Department of Main Roads and Transport.

Two TMR officials flew into Weipa last week to sit down with local boat users and charter operators in a hastily organised “public meeting” which wasn’t advertised and was restricted in attendance.

The meeting came on the back of last week’s Cape York Weekly front-page story which said TMR had called for tenders to design and build a new pontoon at Evans Landing, but had once again failed to consult with the community on its wishes.

Roger Priest, TMR’s manager of boating infrastructure, told the meeting that the state government had been aware of the current facilities shortcomings for a number of years, but didn’t have the money in the budget to do anything about it.

“In the lead up to the 2017 state election both parties made promises about marine infrastructure and $30 million was committed,” Mr Priest told the meeting last Tuesday.

“The list was decided by Labor and Weipa wasn’t on it.

“TMR was tasked with delivering those promises.”

He also said that he was acutely aware of the media articles written about the Weipa facility but couldn’t do anything due to budget restraints.

“Over the last two-and-a-half years we’ve had a lot of discussions with the WTA and had crystal clear messages from the community.”

Mr Priest said TMR could not be blamed for the current boat ramp infrastructure because it was designed by North Queensland Bulk Ports.

This is despite the fact the ramp and pontoon is not owned by NQBP and is in fact a TMR asset.

Tenders close this week to design and construct a new pontoon at Evans Landing.

“We don’t have a design at the moment,” Mr Priest said.

“What we have is concepts from our engineers to lead the contractor in the right direction.”

Long-time resident Steve Rehn said the conceptual designs were not adequate and said TMR needed to do more.

Mr Priest said there was potential for a second stage of works to address further problems, which was howled down by those in attendance.

“It costs a lot of money to get the pile driving vessel out here and then award another contract,” Mr Rehn said.

“If you are going to build it, do it all at once and do it properly.”

Veteran charter operator Alan Philiskirk said it was a mistake not to consult with locals.

“The community should have input, rather than engineers in Brisbane coming up with a design and telling us that it will be good.

“We know the area, we know the conditions and we use it more than anyone. When those south-easterlies blow, the current ramp and pontoon is not up to standard. It needs protection.”

Mr Priest told the meeting that he would take the feedback on board and pass it on to the successful contractor, who will be tasked with the final design.

“We are limited as to what we can do within the budget we are handed,” he said.

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