MODERNIZATION OF RAILWAY TO SVILENGRAD HAS BEGUN
Deputy Transport Minister Sofia Kassidova and Efstatios Natsis, Executive Director of the Greek company Terna, signed on Wednesday (June 15) the contract for the construction and modernization of the 38-km-long railway from Krumovo to Parvomai. The official ceremony was attended by Finance Minister Milen Velchev and Transport Minister Nikolai Vassilev, the Head of the EC Delegation to Bulgaria Dimitris Kourkoulas, and the MPs from the NMSII Vladimir Donchev and Yordan Mirchev. The project is worth EUR86MN and is just the first stage of the project for the entire reconstruction of the Plovdiv-Svilengrad railway. Rehabilitation and modernization of the railroad to the border with Greece and Turkey will cost EUR340MN. Financing has been ensured by a loan of EUR150MN from the European Investment Bank (EIB), a EUR153MN grant from the EU's ISPA programme, and EUR37MN from the state budget. However, the choice of a contractor for the rehabilitation of the section from Krumovo to Purvomai was not without problems. The Greeks were preferred among eight other candidates, although they did not offer the lowest price. The German-Austria joint venture (JV) between PORR Technobau und Umwelt AG and VA Tech offered the lowest price of EUR74.9MN. The following proposal - EUR82.741MN - was that of the German JV between Weis, Kirhner, Heitkamp and TissenKrupp. Terna's offer of EUR86MN was third. The highest price was offered by the Austrian JV Alpine Meireder and PORR Technobau und Umwelt AG - EUR145.2MN with a possible discount of EUR5.8MN.It did not become clear why the Transport Ministry preferred the Greeks' offer. The situation became further complicated after the Bulgarian mass media published articles, saying that Terna has not fulfilled a single project of the kind on its own. Forecasts were that the term of reconstruction could get longer and more expensive. European donors obviously had similar suspicions as they were inspecting the choice of the Greek company for more than five months before giving green light to the signing of the contract. I am not worried that the decision for choosing Terna could be litigated by the candidates who failed, as that could be done only before the European Commission in Brussels, which has drafted the contract. From there we got complete approval of the procedure's transparency, Transport Minister Vassilev pointed out.