Croatia’s Haunted Bridges: Why Do So Many Bridge Construction Projects Fail?

Total Croatia News

It seems that all bridge construction projects in Croatia meet extraordinary challenges.

Despite promises and expectations, Croatia has entered the new year without a decision on the contractor for the construction works on Pelješac Bridge. The bids for this the most important infrastructure project in Croatia were opened in mid-September, but the Croatian Roads public company (HC/Hrvatske Ceste) has not yet decided which of the three bidders will get the contract. Italian Astaldi and Turkish IC offered to build the bridge for 2.5 billion kuna, Austrian Strabag for 2.6 billion kuna, and a Chinese consortium led by China Road and Bridge Corporation for 2 billion kuna. All three bids are above the estimated value of works which is 1.75 billion kuna, reports Večernji List on January 3, 2018.

HC has a 120-day deadline to decide on the contractor, but the company said earlier that the decision would be made well before the expiration of the deadline. Initially, it was announced that the contractor would be selected by the end of October. According to the price criterion and also the references, the job of building Peljesac Bridge should be given to the Chinese consortium, which could cause a political problem, since the construction of Pelješac Bridge will be co-financed by 375 million euros from EU funds, and European companies Astaldi and Strabag have submitted much more expensive bids than the Chinese consortium.

Who will build the bridge is still not known, even though the first tender for this contract was announced on 21 June 2016, a year and a half ago. The bidding has been delayed due to numerous complaints which have been submitted. Similar problems have plagued a separate tender for the supervision of the construction works. Croatia has had no luck with this bridge whose construction was twice ceremoniously started by then Prime Minister Ivo Sanader in 2005 and 2007. In 2005, the government announced that Pelješac Bridge would be completed by 2008. At the time, the construction of the bridge was contracted without secured funds, so the contract was terminated in 2012.

Still, Pelješac Bridge is not the only bridge with which Croatia has a problem. Almost all of the major bridge projects turn out to be challenging, and some are causing problems even after the works have been completed.

Much smaller than Pelješac Bridge, the bridge between the island of Čiovo and the mainland should have been completed by the end of 2016, but inhabitants of the island still have to use the old bridge, which causes traffic jams in the area. Croatian Roads signed a contract with Viadukt worth 207.9 million kuna for the construction of that bridge in February 2015. However, Viadukt has undergone problems in the meantime, so the completion of construction was extended until 15 June 2017. But, even that second deadline was missed, so in the end, the authorities had to cancel the contract with Viadukt, with just 50 percent of the works completed. A new tender was published, and the latest deadline is 15 June 2018. However, even this timeline is in question, since the contractors were selected in October.

The even worse situation is with the Svilaj Bridge across the Sava river, on the border between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The first contract for the constriction was signed in February 2012, but the bridge is still nowhere to be seen. The Svilaj Bridge was supposed to be constructed jointly by the two countries. The first contract was signed with Strabag, which later abandoned the deal with an explanation that investors were late in fulfilling their obligations. After a new public tender, the second contract was signed in July 2016. However, the problems continued because one of the new contractors, Viadukt, went into bankruptcy.

The same company is the culprit for problems with yet another bridge, the bridge over the Drava River. The construction of this 2.5 km long bridge was contracted in 2009, for a little less than a billion kunas. The grand project was supposed to be completed by the end of 2013, but many problems followed, and the works are only now being completed.

Translated from Večernji List.


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