BUSINESSES on Omagh’s Derry Road are set to initiate legal action against the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) after losing “tens of thousands” of pounds as a result of ongoing disruption caused by the new Strathroy Link Road construction.
They claim the roadworks are blocking access to their premises on an almost daily basis, resulting in a dramatic decrease in footfall.
Gerard Keyes, proprietor of the Toolbox Omagh, said his June business figures are down 50 per-cent on the same period last year.
He added, “At no point ever were we consulted about these roadworks at all. This latest stage, which has ramped up since the beginning of June, is causing us to lose considerable business.” The construction of the link road between the Gortin Road and the Derry Road is already a year behind schedule, and is now set to be finished by next month.
Local business owners affected by the roadworks met with Ryan Devlin from Roads Service and WPS who designed the road on Tuesday evening.
However, Mr Keyes said, “Nothing was done to reassure us that the ongoing issue would be resolved.”
The businesses affected say they are fighting a daily battle to allow customer access to their stores.
Mr Keyes explained, “We never get any warning of what’s happening, you come in the morning and you see what you’re going to be faced with that day.
“On Tuesday morning they were trying to close the entrance to my business off at 7am and there was a major ‘to-do’ to get them to see sense – they can’t just close access to my business for a whole day.
“They get their pay cheque regardless of what happens whereas we’re sending staff home early because we don’t have the footfall.”
McAleer’s Spar, located next to Toolbox, has also been negatively impacted by the construction works.
In additional to the considerable financial loss, they say they are being forced throw away large amounts of produce every day because customers can’t get access to the store.
The local business owners say they are now considering legal action against the Dfi to compensate the considerable loss of earnings caused by the roadworks.
“We have frequently pointed out the obstacles and also offered solutions, but no one ever listens to what we’re saying,” said Mr Keyes.
“We are going to be forced to take legal action because nothing is being done to resolve this issue. That in itself is cost to the business we could do without.”
Department issues apology
THE Department for Infrastructure (DfI) has apologised for the ‘disruption to road users and some businesses’ during construction of the new Strathroy Link Road.
With the new road scheduled to be completed in a matter of weeks the Dfi also thanked motorists, businesses and residents for their patience during its construction.
A spokesperson said, “The Department acknowledges and apologies for the disruption to road users and some local businesses as works on the Strathroy Link Road move towards completion.
“The Department is continuing to work with the contractor and affected businesses in an attempt to ensure disruption is kept to a minimum.
“The Department wishes to thank all road users, local residents and businesses for their patience to date and advises that the contractor’s current programme indicates that the remaining surfacing, footwear, kerbing and street lighting works on the Derry Road will be completed over the next three or four weeks.”
Adding, “The Department takes the issue of road safety very seriously and on completion, the new road layout will include the provision of new right turning facilities at the business entrances closest to the new roundabout.”