BULGARIA WILL ENTER THE EU WITH TRAKIYA AND LYULIN MOTORWAYS READY
Bulgaria and Serbia will be constructing the Sofia-Nis motorway on a concession principle, Dipl. Eng. Yassen Ishev, Director of the Investments and Development of the Republican Roads Department of the Roads Executive Agency, said in front of the BANKER weekly. On March 15 the Minister of Regional Development and Public Works Valentin Tserovsky and his Serbian counterpart Dragoslav Shumarats agreed in Belgrade that by July Serbia would be erady with its feasibility studies for the motorway's section from Nis to the border. Onlt the pre-investment study for the Nis-Dimitrovgrad section has been compleetd so far. Bulgaria has long ago prepared feasibility stidies for the motorway on our territory, but is waiting for Belgrade to finish the procedure, the Roads Executive Agency, specifies. The docuemnts are expected to be ready by the year-end. An announcement for a tender under the Concessions Act for picking up a concessionaire is expected to be published. The aim is to attract investors from the European Union (EU) and powerful construction consortia. The tender for the concession will be invited next year. The French company Buigue has long ago filed an application for participation but no contract has been signed so far. Foreign investors' hesitations originate mainly from the fact that some of Bulgarian A-class roads do not have yet a proven economically efficient traffic of 6,000 to 10,000 vehicles in 24 hours. Only in such case the construction of a motorway shall not cost to the investor more than EUR500,000/km, building experts claim. At the present stage Bulgarian companies could not take part in the concession because huge investments are necessary, Dipl. Eng. Yassen Ishev believes. The Sofia-Nis motorway is part of Transport Corridor No 10. It starts from Zalzburg and passes through Lyublyana, Zagreb, Belgrade, and Nis, reaching Sofia.Although in the last five years Bulgaria and Serbia have declared several times willingness for beginning the construction of the Sofia-Nis motorway, theer are still sumbling stones in front of the project. Lack of finances is the main obstacle. The construction of the motorway will cost a total of EUR440MN, and EUR238Mn will be necessary for the section on Bulgarian territory. Nobody remembers now that in the summer of 2001 the former Stability Pact Coordinator Bodo Hombach promise cooperation for the project's implementation.The motorway from Nis to Sofia shall be about 90 km long. The Bulgarian section only 50 km. By the year 2007 when Bulgaria is expected to become a memeber fo the EU, we'll succeed to finish the Trakiya motorway, the Roads Executive Agency explains. EUR600MN is necessary for its completion. A loan agreement for EU120MN has already been signed with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). EUR390MN is expected from external investments, including a concession, and EUR90MN will be allocated by the state budget. A 171-km section of the Trakiya motorway - from Sofia to Orizivo - has been already commissioned. In March Minister Tserovsky made the first sod of the Orizovo-Stara Zagora section. It will be 38 km long and will be completed by 2005. The 35.5-km long road section from Bourgas to Karnobat should be ready within the same term. The Lyulin motorway will be also constructed by 2007. Thus, Bulgaria will have two entirely renewed motorways till the country's accession to the EU. A public discussion of the project, which is a priority for the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works has been scheduled for March 31. EUR111,337,500 is expected to be granted by the EU's ISPA programme for the construction of the Lyulin motorway. eConstruction work will start in 2004.