Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Two consortiums put in bids to rehabilitate road to Romania
Wed 13 Aug 2008 - Elitsa Grancharova

Two consortiums, comprising connected companies, are candidates for the reconstruction of the 47km road from Kavarna to Dourankoulak, on the northern Black Sea coast, which leads to one of Bulgaria's border checkpoints with Romania. The bids were opened on August 12 at the office of the National Road Infrastructure Agency (NRIA).

The two bidders are the Dourankoulak consortium, whose leading partner is Hidrostroy AD, and Kavarna association, whose leading partner is Putno Stroitelstvo AD (Road Construction), reported.

Kavarna consortium offered the lower price of 14.9 million euro. The second company in the consortium, Putishta i Mostove (Roads and Brigdes), is owned by Hidrostroy, the leading firm in the competing Dourankoulak consortium, which offered a price of 15.5 million euro, said.

Hidrostroy has won public tenders from NRIA in its previous incarnations and one of its owners is Veliko Zhelev, the former head of the National Road Infrastructure Fund (now restructured into NRIA). Zhelev was replaced by Vesselin Georgiev, who quit earlier this year, and both individuals have beet repeatedly accused in Bulgarian-language media of involvement in corruption rows and conflicts of interest.

The suspicions of malfeasances and irregularities concerning public tenders have prompted the European Commission to freeze the funds allocated to road construction in Bulgaria while such allegations are investigated.

Offers for the Dourankoulak-Kavarna highway were opened only two days after Dimitur Ivanov was appointed executive director of NRIA. Ivanov was previously executive director of construction company Ingstroy Sofia.

The re-construction of the road to the north-eastern border check point with Romania is part of Transit Roads 5, an ongoing rehabilitation project that has gone on for the last 17 years. The project includes 1262km of roads, whose rehabilitation costs are estimated at a total of 500 million euro. A loan from the European Investment Bank finances 75 per cent of the costs, while the state budget covers the remainder. For some roads, which are not parts of the Transeuropean Transport Network and its corridors passing through Bulgaria, the financing split is 50-50.

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