Photos taken of Great Keppel Island show the failure of a revetment wall installed after years of bad weather ravaged Putney Beach.
Photos taken of Great Keppel Island show the failure of a revetment wall installed after years of bad weather ravaged Putney Beach. Contributed

Damage slows Great Keppel Island work

EROSION mitigation work on Great Keppel Island has been set back about a month after the contractor suffered up to $180,000 damage to equipment, wages and hire last week.

Project engineer John Ole Keko said with one slurry sand pump now out of action, work and damaged hoses had slowed to 40% output.

"There are some people saying we have no insurance, but that's bulls*#t," Mr Ole Keko said.

"Of course we are insured. We have $20 million public liability insurance, $4 million indemnity insurance and our excavator is insured.

"But there is some basic equipment like hoses and pumps that we couldn't get any company to insure.

"It's too risky being on an island.

"These are big hoses, like the ones they use on mine sites. Two of the three pumps were flooded by storm surge and they're buggered."

John Ole Keko says his biggest priority is getting back to work as soon as possible, for the sake of his workers.

"People don't understand the impact on my staff," he said.

"The workers have been severely affected by this equipment failure. I've had to reduce 15 down to four until we until we can get back to work.

"As a small family business a hit like this will set us out of work.

"Our local employees are on edge and some have no certainty of a date to return to work.

"This is our major concern as employees and their families are our main asset.” 

Mr Ole Keko said Federal MP Michelle Landry and State MP Brittany Lauga had both been very supportive and were doing what they could.

"We've spoken to Brittany on the phone and Michelle came over to the island to see what could be done to help," he said.

Ms Landry said the island was ready for Easter but needed urgent assistance before the next big weather event.

"If this section of the island is washed away, it won't be long before the next building goes and the water aquifer will be contaminated with salt water," she said.

Mrs Lauga said she had given the Hideaway contacts for the disaster relief funding officer in the Queensland Government and she understood a meeting had been arranged for today.

"This needs to be sorted, for the Hideaway's sake and for Great Keppel Island's sake," she said.

The project is now expected to be finished by the end of May this year and although there has been some controversy around the revetment wall's ultimate effectiveness, Mr Ole Keko was very confident in saying "yes, it's going to work".