Банкеръ Weekly


Bulgaria Ready to Concession Three Highways

Bulgaria is ready to put three highways and two speed roads on concession, said Regional Development Minister Liliana Pavlova during the Fourth Economic and Trade Forum in Belgrade. The event was held in the framework of the Initiative for cooperation between the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and China. According to the Regional Minister, the European funds for infrastructure projects are not enough and we can seek a concessionaire for the highways Black Sea, Rila and Sofia - Kalotina, as well as the speed roads Vidin - Botevgrad and Ruse - Veliko Tarnovo.

For the Highway Black Sea the situation is clear. Yet in her previous mandate, Pavlova tried to realize concession with an investor from Qatar, but an agreement was not reached. Again in the format with Qatar, but with the participation of Turkey, was then discussed also the possibility of public-private partnership for the speed road Ruse - Veliko Tarnovo, as he then it was envisaged to reach Svilengrad. These intentions, however, hit a stone.
Now the National Company for Strategic Infrastructure Projects initiated the preparation of a report on evaluation of the environmental impact on the completion of the highway along the Black Sea. What is provided for this purpose is an amount of 200,000 levs (excluding VAT). It is interestingly, however, whether someone will be interested in this route, which is of crucial importance for hoteliers on the Black Sea coast.

Highway Rila, which should connect the Struma, Thrakia and Hemus higways, passing near Dupnitsa and Samokov, was not even mentioned recently. Before the financial crisis GBS said they were ready to build it but then everything collapsed. Its estimated value is about 420 million euros for 143 km, but due to the fact that it is of importance to the local domestic traffic only, it would be difficult to attract a candidate investor.

Most curious is what will happen to the highway leading to Kalotina. During his previous term as Prime Minister Boyko Borissov described it as a strategic project and in 2010 threatened to overtake the Serbs who are building on their part the section leading to Nis. However, this will be difficult because several times the state changed the concept of the project. Originally Sofia - Kalotina was to be financed under the EU Transport Programme, but the government of Plamen Oresharski took the highway out of the list of projects due to insufficient funds. Subsequently, on 21 May 2014 the Road Infrastructure Agency announced a contract for the construction of a 31.5-kilometre stretch. The approximate value was 200 million levs without VAT, and the money is expected to come from the new edition of the Transport program. In early August, the Commission for Protection of Competition announced a bunch of violations at the opening of the competition, which led to its final halt. So it all started again. In September, the National Council of the Ministry of Regional Development approved a land lot plan for the route. The meeting also adopted a detailed plan that allows resuming expropriation procedures, design and construction.

Very important is the fate of the road from Vidin to Sofia, which should take the increased traffic of cars after the opening of the Danube Bridge II.

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