Plans for Highway Construction Evolve in Romania

Plans for Highway Construction Evolve
Nine O’Clock – March 16, 2009

Also Bechtel slows work on Transylvania highway, mass layoffs in sight / Dec 08

Minister of Transports and Infrastructure, Radu Berceanu, signed, on Saturday, in Arad, the design and construction contract for the road belt having the speed regime of a highway around the municipal, part of Arad – Timisoara highway, Mediafax informs. He explained that the contract signed on Saturday provided for penalty and termination clauses which cannot be disputed in the court. Thus, the contract can be terminated unilaterally by Ministry of Transports provided that the construction deadlines are not observed by far, without the company starting a lawsuit.

On the other side, Berceanu said that Timisoara belt, which will not be extended to four lanes, but only to two, could be finalized in November. The Minister explained that although Timisoara needed a four-lane belt, the one having two lanes has to be constructed fast, since money and constructor exist.

On Saturday, Berceanu said, in a press conference, in Arad, that his intention was to move part of the heavy traffic of goods and dangerous substances to the railways, as the road network is over-crowded currently and it’s getting destroyed fast.

The minister said that because of the railway condition, this is under-used, no investments are made, and heavy traffic damages the roads which cost more and more.

Radu Berceanu who paid a visit, on Friday morning, to the yard started on Timisoara detour belt, stated his discontent as to the fact that workers did not work and the works were not advancing. The contract with the previous constructor was terminated in 2006 and a new call for bids was organized for this construction. The new constructor is Romstrade, which has 20 months to put asphalt on the 12.6 km of highways.

Minister of Transports says that the establishment of Banat Airport Company is more important than deregulation since there is a risk for a private investor to take over the airport from Arad, to the detriment of the one from Timisoara. On the other side, Berceanu added that Romania would have 700 km of highway in two years. Asked whether there is money for seven hundred km of highways in two years, Transport Minister said that this was possible, but everything depends on the funding sources to be found. The Minister added that the option of leasing the highway construction is considered as a funding solution.

Berceanu who made a visit on Friday to Calea Sagului passage in Timisoara, told the mayor Gheorghe Ciuhandu that the money asked by Municipality for the rehabilitation of the passage was not available since the former Minister spent the funds for 2009 as well. Timisoara mayor, Gheorghe Ciuhandu, has requested Transport Minister to allot funds for the rehabilitation of the railway passage at Calea Sagului, at the exit from Timisoara to Serbia, since this was in an advanced degree of degradation.

Radu Berceanu cancelled the commitment to build 27 km of highway in Cluj County, for the mobile phone producer Nokia, ‘Evenimentul zilei’ informs. The budget earmarked to Transports does not include any funds for this project. While the chair of Cluj County Council, Alin Tise, does not know anything about the cancellation of the project, the mayor of Cluj Napoca municipal, Sorin Apostu, said that Nokia highway project was overlapping with the Southern belt of Cluj. The official said that the traffic from Nokia towards and from the highway shall be faster addressed through the construction of eight km of roads.

1,500 employees from Bechtel to return to work in two weeks

Part of the 1,500 employees, sent on temporary unemployment, in December 2008, return to work in two weeks, as the spokesperson of the company, Bogdan Sgarcitu, said on Friday. He said that there will be two extended shifts, even during the night. Sgarcitu mentioned that Transport Ministry had to pay, until end of March, EUR 1.5 M to Bechtel outstanding amounts, EUR 26 M plus VAT for certifies works and penalties amounting to EUR 3.2 M. Transport Minister said, at the end of February, that the Ministry he led would pay EUR 420 M to Bechtel this year, on the basis of a protocol concluded between the two parts.

by Bianca Cojocaru

Bechtel slows work on Transylvania highway, mass layoffs in sight
Business Review December 15, 2008

The bickering between the US construction company Bechtel and the Romanian state through the National Roads Company (CNADNR) continues with the US company saying it will substantially slow down work, a measure prompted by the absence of necessary payments from the state.
Bechtel says it was waiting for a EUR 41.7 million payment for its work on the Transylvania highway, after having completed
5 kilometers of a first 25-kilometer section of the road.
The firm said the measure could affect its 2,300 employees working on the highway project.
However, the government sees Bechtel’s decision to slow down work as a unilateral one, which could allow the state to re-consider continuing the contract, according to the CNADNR.
Bechtel workers who are suspended following the construction company’s decision must still be paid, under Romanian law, until they are asked to re-start work, said Michael Mix, project manager for the Transylvania highway project.
“We regret the need to take this measure, but we can’t continue works without being paid and without having free and full access to pieces of land that are large enough and connected one to each other,” said Mix. In the event of mass layoffs, Bechtel employees assigned to the highway project would receive two monthly salaries as compensation. So far, several hundred employees have been asked to halt work on the site.
“We pledge to work with the Ministry of Transportation, CNADNR, union and government leaders to solve this situation,” said Mix.
“In our view, the slowdown of activity is a consequence of the CNADNR not asking constructors to close sites and prepare works for conservation for the winter season. Bechtel’s decision is surprising, because the company has a prepared work site,” said CNADNR.
The state company said it had asked the finance ministry for the necessary sums to cover works and that it had also offered Bechtel the option to continue work by approving the technical project for a new sector of the highway, the Gilau-Mihailesti portion. Work on the Transylvania highway, which will connect Brasov to Bors, started in 2004, based on a EUR 2.2 billion contract awarded to US company Bechtel.
In 2005, the government re-analyzed the contract awarded by the previous governing party. The highway is now due for completion in 2012, and works are currently in progress for the 25-kilometer sector between Gilau and Campia Turzii.
The Transylvania highway will connect Brasov to Oradea and the Hungarian border, on a 415 kilometer route. The US construction company had previously estimated it would employ 8,000 workers in 2010, when works on the highway were expected to peak.
Corina Saceanu