After almost a decade in the making and £13 million spent, the Edinburgh Tram Inquiry has finally been published – but the blame game still has plenty of track left to run.

Scottish ministers, particularly John Swinney, are in the firing line, as is the city council and the company it set out up deliver the troubled project.

Lord Hardie has belatedly delivered his verdict, but has been in no rush to do so – not too unlike the pace of an Edinburgh tram.

In the 24 recommendations made is a call for people and companies to face criminal consequences of withholding information to local authorities.

But the criticism laid on Mr Swinney for meddling in the crisis after Transport Scotland washed its hands of the fiasco in 2007, is pretty incredible.

Read more: Edinburgh Tram Inquiry: John Swinney accused of meddling in crisis

The former deputy first minister who was finance secretary at the time of the project, was accused of trying exert influence from behind the scenes and “pulling strings”.

But wilder still is the response by the current SNP Transport Secretary, Mairi McAllan, who alleged that the conclusions drawn by Lord Hardie do not match the evidence heard during the inquiry.

This throws up the very real possibility that the Scottish Government could reject the findings of its own inquiry, which then-first minister Alex Salmond pledged would be “swift and thorough”.

Given that and the fact that the City of Edinburgh Council has pressed ahead, very successfully, with completing the line to Newhaven, without the findings, it is valid to ask what was the point of the inquiry?

The costs of the tram project are now staggering with the complete Edinburgh Airport to Newhaven line in excess of £1 billion.

But it is businesses and communities that have suffered at the hands of the incredible shambles, some more than once.

Read more: Edinburgh tram inquiry reveals 'litany of avoidable failures'

The inquiry states that businesses in the west end of the capital and on Leith Walk “suffered loss for several years longer than anticipated because of the failure to deliver the project on time”.

Meanwhile, traders between York Place and Newhaven “will have continued to suffer loss during the construction of the extension to Newhaven, which is a result of the failure to deliver the project to the extent projected”.

The Herald: An Edinburgh tramAn Edinburgh tram

It adds: “The disruption to residents and businesses was aggravated by the fact that it was apparent that, for considerable periods of time, little or no work was being undertaken following the commencement of on-street work, and after streets were closed or access to and from residential and business premises was restricted.”

It is fair to say that the original tram project was an unmitigated disaster for some businesses, caused by what Lord Hardie described as “a litany of avoidable failures”.

Lord Hardie bluntly put that “poor management and abdication of responsibility on a large scale” has caused “a significant and lasting impact on the lives and livelihoods of Edinburgh residents, and the reputation of the city”.

Read more: Edinburgh's tram extension success 'shows toxic legacy is history'

The current council leader, Cammy Day, has offered an apology to businesses, admitting that “serious mistakes were made" which had a "significant impact on the city".

He added: "There’s no getting away from the fact that the original project caused a great deal of disruption to residents and businesses, as well as damaging the city’s reputation and on behalf of the council, I want to apologise for this.”

Given the Newhaven project has opened successfully and the council has ambitions, this time backed by the Scottish Government, to send the tram to the north and south of the capital, let’s hope businesses can finally start reaping the rewards of the project.