ABL wins $2m dental contract

Dunedin's Amalgamated Builders Ltd has been awarded a contract of nearly $2 million to build school dental clinics.

The Southern District Health Board is reducing the number of fixed dental clinics and increasing the use of mobile units.

The programme is part of a nationwide overhaul in how dental services are delivered to school children, with the emphasis on prevention, education, and input from parents.

The fixed clinics would have longer operating hours, and operate outside of the school calendar.

ABL director and area manager Richard Johnston said the contract was worth close to $2 million.

The health contract adds to a busy programme for the Dunedin firm, which includes the Regent Theatre, Dunedin Centre, municipal chambers and town hall upgrades.

Mr Johnston said it was possible the firm would employ extra staff in the new year.

At the least it helped secure the long-term future of the firm's existing employees in a tight building market.

In addition to building fixed clinics at Dunedin's Macandrew Intermediate, Taieri College in Mosgiel, Rosebank School in Balclutha, Oamaru North School, and Alexandra Primary School, the firm would set up about 20 sites to prepare them for mobile unit visits.

ABL is familiar with the project, having won earlier stages of the construction work.

SDHB oral health project manager Graham Bugler said he hoped that by the end of next year most of the facilities would be open.

"A handful of existing dental clinics will need to remain open until the mobile clinics that replace them are delivered in 2012, but the vast majority of Otago and Southland children and adolescents will have access to facilities that are at the forefront of modern standards by this time next year."

Mr Bugler said completion depended on finalising lease agreements with schools, and resource consent issues.

ABL was one of five tenderers for the final construction phase.