THE Ararat prison project has taken a big step towards getting back on track, more than five months after it came to an abrupt halt.
A new builder has taken over the stalled $400 million site, after previous construction company St Hillers Ararat went into liquidation in May.
The announcement comes as a relief for a number of Ballarat sub-contractors, many of whom are still owed money and are unsure if they will ever return to the site.
Global construction company Brookfield Multiplex has been named as the takeover company, appointed by the Commonwealth, Bendigo and Adelaide banks.
The banks were appointed by the government in August to complete the project.
The project is expected to be re-started early in the new year and is due for completion towards the end of 2014.
Ballarat-based building company PM Builders is still owed about $30,000 for work it has completed at the site.
Business owner Peter Steenhuis said although he had completed most of his contract at the site, he would wait to see if his contract would be renewed next year for further work.
He was confident he would be paid out in full, but said he would not return to work at the site until he was.
Forced to lay off employees, Mr Steenhuis said he was unable to re-hire them without the guarantee of further jobs.
“We still haven’t got all of our money yet so I don’t know if we will be doing anything until we get started,” he said.
“We hope to get re-contracted next year, but up until then we can’t go putting any more workers on if we don’t know what work we have.”
Corrections Minister Andrew McIntosh welcomed the news that work would start again.
He said he had been advised that 49 claims worth $8.6 million had so far been paid out to subcontractors whose claims had been validated by KordaMentha, an independent third party, and that more payments were imminent.