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PM Pellegrini gave ultimatum to the constructor of Višňové Tunnel

If the Slovak-Italian consortium of companies does not speed up construction, the state might terminate the contract.

Višňové tunnel(Source: SITA)

If the construction work at the Višňové Tunnel continue at the current pace, the National Highway Company will terminate the agreement with the constructor. This is how Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini responded to the current state of the tunnel, who visited the site with Transport Minister Árpád Érsek on December 5.

The 7.5-kilometre-long tunnel, which is part of the cross-country D1 highway between Bratislava and Košice, is built by the consortium of the Slovak company Dúha and Italy's Salini Impegrilo. Its construction began in summer of 2014 and was originally expected to be completed by the end of 2019. The construction firms promised to build it for €409 million excluding VAT, the SITA newswire reported.

The construction work is about two years late, and it is possible the delay will be longer. For example, the road in the tunnel was expected to be built by late December 28, 2018, which will not happen.

Read also:The longest highway tunnel in Slovakia is finally bored through

“Despite all the steps we have made to help the construction we don’t see real progress and the situation has to be solved fundamentally,” Érsek said, as quoted by the Hospodárske Noviny daily.

Low number of workers

Érsek has been critical of the construction pace for some time. He visited the site with Pellegrini unexpectedly, and also checked it from the air.

“The prime minister has absolutely agreed with the transport minister,” Karolína Ducká, spokesperson of the Transport Ministry, told Hospodárske Noviny. “The work is not proceeding as it should and could have, and the constructors cannot explain it properly.”

The number of workers at the construction site should be four times higher.

The representative of Salini Impegrilo responded that currently there are 250 people working in three shifts inside the tunnel, and another 300 outside it. The reason for such a number is the winter season.

“Of course, when it is warmer, at least from late March, the number of workers will be higher,” said Alessandro Citterio, the company’s project manager, as quoted by the private news channel TA3.

However, the company has already dismissed more than 200 people, due to the optimalisation of costs.

“We’re concerned about the constructor’s steps regarding the dismissal of employees,” said Michaela Michalová, NDS spokesperson, as quoted by the Sme daily. “However, we don’t have any possibilities of intervening in the employment relations of private subjects.”

Alternatives for the construction

Terminating the agreement with the constructors is not a definite option. There are three more possibilities that the representatives of NDS, the ministry and the Government’s Office have presented to the consortium, Ducká said.

The first is that they will start working at the full pace and respect the agreement, second, that they will leave the construction voluntarily, and third, that they will be kicked out, Hospodárske Noviny wrote.

The definite solution will be adopted by next February.

However, Salini Impregilo wants to continue in the construction. It wants to complete the junction in Lietavská Lúčka next summer, and has prepared a new schedule for the construction work in Višňové Tunnel. The road is supposed to open in the first third of 2021. This is nearly a year-and-a-half later than originally planned, TA3 reported.

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Topic: Peter Pellegrini


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