Ararat prison upgrade to resume

Building on the troubled Ararat prison upgrade is set to restart within weeks.

Work on the $400 million project stopped in April after St Hilliers Construction went into voluntary administration and the consortium overseeing the project went into administration.

The state government reached a deal with banks in August this year to take over the 350-bed project and guarantee its completion.

Corrections Minister Andrew McIntosh visited the site yesterday, saying work on the expansion would resume in late January or early February.

“The resumption of construction here at Ararat will mark a welcome turnaround in this project’s fortunes, especially for the people and businesses of Ararat,” Mr McIntosh said in a statement.

“I again thank the Ararat community for the patience shown during this extremely difficult time.

“The return of construction will deliver substantial investment back into the Ararat community, supporting jobs and local businesses over the next two years while the expansion is completed.”

Up to 10 Ballarat-based sub-contractors had become embroiled in the prison project, many forced to lay off employees as they had not been paid for work that had been done at the site.

At one stage up to $20 million was owed to sub-contractors from across the state, with some Ballarat businesses more than $500,000 out of pocket.

Most have now been paid back in full or have received most of the money they were owed. 

So far, contractors on site have completed fence repairs, maintenance, concreting and occupational health and safety works to ensure the site is ready for construction to begin.

The project is due to be completed in late 2014.

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