ALMOST a month after an underground electrical network in Keppel Street was damaged by council contractors, business owners in the vicinity remain thousands of dollars out of pocket.
Air conditioners, cash registers, computers and other electrical items were among the items damaged with one business owner alone already out of pocket almost $20,000.
Both Bathurst Regional Council and Essential Energy have denied liability because the damage was done by an external contractor. Meanwhile, business owners are having to find the cash to do necessary repairs to remain open.
One business owner, who wished to remain anonymous, said 31 premises in Keppel Street had been affected.
He said he was told council sourced underground "dial-before-you-dig" plans from Essential Energy which did not show any electrical cable in the location they were drilling.
"Essential Energy have been investigating this for almost three weeks now and no one is admitting any liability."
The man said none of the businesses had machinery breakdown insurance, as it is cost prohibitive.
Council's director of engineering services, Darren Sturgiss said the contractor, chosen through the open tender process in accordance with the Local Government Act and council's procurement process, had responsibility to conduct and complete the Dial Before You Dig checks.
Mr Sturgiss said this was done in conjunction with utility service providers.
"This process did not indicate the presence of the cable that was hit. Council is not liable for any damage claims as due process was followed."
A spokesperson for Essential Energy said while a review of the incident was still under way, Essential Energy's preliminary understanding is that the incident was caused by a contractor, engaged by a third party.
"As the damage was caused by a third party, Essential Energy is unable to consider any associated claims and it is also not possible for Essential Energy to make claims against third parties on behalf of any affected customers."
Steve Barrott from the Salvation Army store, one the stores affected by the damage, said so far the charity has replaced a computer, lights and air conditioning.
Mr Barrott said on the day it happened he went and spoke to the contractors on-site who said to him: "It's not our fault, council didn't tell us [the cable was there]."
He said he has filled out paperwork regarding the incident, but hasn't heard a thing back.