SOFIA AIRPORT TERMINAL TO BE READY IN HALF A YEAR
Assoc. Prof. Yonko Penev, Lecture in the University of Architecture, Construction and Geodesy, to the BANKER WeeklyAssoc. Prof. Yonko Penev has participated in the construction of national facilities, whose value many times exceeds that of the new Sofia Airport. A year ago in an interview for the BANKER he warned that the terminal is in a critical state both from a technical point a view and in terms of security and operation of buildings and equipment. Mr. Penev underlined as well that the State is absent from the site and the Strabag building company was dictating the terms in its favour. Mr. Penev, as we see the term for launching the new Sofia Airport terminal will be again postponed ...- Still when the term was extended for the first time by 12 months I warned the former transport minister Nikolay Vassilev and his deputy Sofia Kassidova, and the public (at a press conference) that the set term was absolutely unrealistic and that the delay would lead to an extremely poor quality of fulfilment and claims for a new postponement in the future. Is it realistic now that the works would be completed within six or seven weeks?- It is just as unrealistic as the previous time. At the present state of the terminal and the faulty taxiways, the minimum term for completion of construction is between six and eight months. Do Strabag's demands for extending the term have grounds?- Of course, not. The delay because of the taxiways is through Strabag's fault, and the floods cannot be the reason as it doesn't rain inside the terminal.However, it is claimed that the reasons for the delay are much more complex - the runways are not ready, the way to the new airport facilities is not ready...- Such excuses should not be accepted as serious. Adjustment of systems takes much time and that is why the terminal should be ready before the other facilities. What should be the stance of the Transport Ministry in that situation?- As of September 1 it should be charging from Strabag EUR100,000 in forfeit each day if what former minister Vassilev said is true - that such a clause has been included in the contract. Thus, the company will have to restore to the State about EUR18MN for half a year. This money could be used for instance for overcoming the consequences of the devastating floods that have recently hit the country. Do you expect technical problems on handing over the site when completed?- I don't believe it could be easily handed over. This will be the worst European airport (not as a project, but as a fulfilment) if urgent measures are not undertaken by the Transport Minister Peter Mutafchiev in person. And because due to price considerations not the most appropriate materials were chosen for the completion works. There is an alarming fact, directly connected with the future operation of the establishment. It is that no executive plans have been drafted and perhaps they have not been ordered yet. I have information that something is partially made, but things won't be settled in that way. Whose obligation is it to ensure such plans?- Of the contractor Strabag, on the demand of the consulting company Nako, at that in compliance with the practice established in this country, with all necessary signatures and seals.Who will be responsible for the entire mess?- In the first place, the responsibility should be born by the fully incompetent consultant Nako. The former deputy transport minister Sofia Kassidova is to blame for all that happened (above-described). Moreover, she expelled from the site the designers of the technical project from the Stroyconsult company and the airport thus remained as a house without a guard-dog. Ex minister Vassilev is also to blame because he did not effect any control over her actions. Ms. Kassidova herself mentioned a year ago that the Sofia Airport was the first construction site on which her feet had ever stepped. Well, the result is obvious. What would you advise the incumbent Transport Minister Peter Mutafchiev to do from now on?- The first piece of advice I would give him would be to deprive Ms. Kassidova of any right, connected with the site. The second one is to charge EUR100,000 per day from Strabag as of September 1 (in order to retain his and the Government's authority. Thirdly, a committee of representatives from the ministry and highly qualified experts from outside should be appointed to check the quality of the facilities and their documentary readiness for delivery and putting in operation. Such a committee will be of worth only if it is personally led by minister Mutafchiev. In that situation the site could be handed over in about eight months. I wish the new minister success. I made these facts public with the single purpose to help him for the quicker and better quality completion of construction.