MILLIONS BURIED IN SOFIA AIRPORT
An argument for additional money has for the time being stopped the construction of the new passenger terminal of Sofia Airport, which had to be commissioned in 2005 but may not be completed in due time. Construction work has been terminated for several weeks now. The project has not been cancelled, but there is considerable delay of the fulfillment, which is due to a change in the specifications for the work, demanded by Sofia Airport. I think this concerns the foundation of the new building. The chief executor - the company Strabag - has demanded a change of the project. Therefore, the work had to stop and the necessary funds recalculated. The matter will be soon discussed. There are problems there, established by the geological research, Deputy Transport Minister Nikola Yankov announced to the BANKER weekly. The Austrian company Strabag won the tender invited last year, offering a price of EUR112.2MN. However, problems arose regarding the choice of the technology for the foundation that should be constructed at the datum level, building experts explained. The contract with Strabag projects plain foundation. This option has been chosen on the basis of geological research, carried out by the Bulgarian company Stroiconsult, still prior the choice of Strabag. In February 2003 the Dutch company NAKO, picked by Strabag to supervise the project, contracted the Bulgarian Ecogeo 92 to carry out additional geological research in order to draft a working project. On the grounds of the new research Strabag said that the project should be changed and pile foundation used instead of plain foundation. Building experts explain that this method requires underground ferro-concrete columns (piles). Stroikonsult has undertaken an inspection in order to find out the reason for the differences between the two researches. It has been assigned to an independent expert - Assoc. Prof. Dr. Dobrin Denev from the Geotechnical department of the University of Architecture, Construction and Geodesy. In his technical examination Mr. Denev points out that the Austrian company's statement about the terrain's instability is groundless. Therefore, the recommended change of the project, which implementation would be more complicated and expensive, is unnecessary. Mr. Denev underlines that the report of Ecogeo 92 does not reject the chosen type of plain foundation, but the traditional substrata sections for such a geological research are absent and instead there are data, directing to pile foundation.According to expert evaluation, the change of the project for a new terminal would additionally cost between BGN11-40MN. The argument which stopped construction work was about that money. One of the serious reasons for rejecting Strabag's requirements, is that the European Investment Bank has flatly refused to consider a higher price, pundits specify.It is still to be decided who's right and wrong. It's a different matter if it would be known whose interests (if there are such) would prevail over those of the State. The more important thing is that during the week the clouds around the new airport building began to clear out. The Deputy Premier and Minsiter of Transport Nikolay Vassilev has personally engaged to settle the argument. If he succeeds to do that, there are real chances for the new Sofia Airport to meet its first passengers in 2005.