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Rohl countersues Ledcor over N.W.T. fibre line, claiming 'faulty' design, planning

Rohl Enterprises, the company that installed the first two thirds of the N.W.T.'s Mackenzie Valley Fibre Optic Link, is countersuing the main contractor, Ledcor Technical Services, for $12 million.

Mackenzie Valley Fibre Optic Link completion could be delayed due to warmer-than-usual winter

The equipment that would lay the fibre optic link through the Mackenzie Valley is demonstrated near Inuvik in January 2015. Rohl Enterprises, the company that installed the first two thirds of the fibre optic line, is countersuing the main contractor, Ledcor, for $12 million, saying problems with the line's installation stem from Ledcor's 'faulty' design and planning. (David Thurton/CBC)

Rohl Enterprises, the company that installed the first two thirds of the N.W.T.'s Mackenzie Valley Fibre Optic Link, is countersuing the main contractor, Ledcor Technical Services, for $12 million, saying problems with the line's installation stem from Ledcor's "faulty" design and bad planning.

Ledcor, after taking Rohl off the $82-million project in October, filed a N.W.T. Supreme Court lawsuit against Manitoba-based Rohl in January.

Ledcor says Rohl did not properly cover parts of the cable and caused erosion and damage to the cable trenches during the winter and summer of 2015.

Last week, Rohl fired back with a countersuit, blaming Ledcor for the deficiencies and charging Ledcor with a number of grievances, including:

  • not providing Rohl with construction-ready drawings
  • failing to carry out the staking and alignment of the 1,154-kilometre route
  • failing to flag creeks and other watercourse crossings

'The most unorganized, unprofessional manner'

"Ledcor has operated this P3 project in the most unorganized, unprofessional manner that I have ever been involved with," said Jason Rohl, president and owner of Rohl Enterprises.

The central argument in Rohl's countersuit is that Ledcor was fully responsible for the method of installing the line, not Rohl, which did as it was told.  

"Ledcor oversaw the work, which included taking digital photographs every 30 to 100 metres, then testing and approving it every step of the way," said Rohl.

"Unfortunately it has become apparent that Ledcor's design was flawed and now they are looking for someone to blame."

Rohl is seeking $12 million in damages, money it says it's owed for work on the fibre line.

Project completion could be delayed to 2017

Finance Minister Robert C. McLeod again came under questioning about the project in the legislative assembly Thursday.

Ledcor told CBC News it won't know until the end of this winter whether the project will be ready by September, as planned, and that work has been affected by warmer-than-expected winter weather.

Asked by Yellowknife North MLA Cory Vanthuyne what the government's contingency plan is if the fibre line isn't completed on time, McLeod responded, "Our department officials will be assessing our options…[including] working...to ensure construction can be completed early in 2017 and the line commissioning shortly thereafter."

Ledcor is responsible for any costs above the original $82-million budget — and won't be paid by the government until an independent certifier confirms the line is working properly, added McLeod.

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