Delays always bring grumbling and irregularities in major projects. One such case is Line 4 of the Athens Metro, with the brawl between the Ministry of Infrastructure and the contractor consortium having begun at the level of claims.
In the previous days, the Ministry of Infrastructure rejected an objection from the contractor consortium ABAX - Ghella - Alstom, regarding a compensation claim of €2,164,629.21 million, or €50,340.21 per day (plus VAT).
Previous public statements had foreshadowed a tense period, as the project is one year behind schedule, but no concern has been expressed so far about its implementation. Requests for compensation and extensions are unfortunately a perennial plague that has plagued all major projects in the country to date.
Of particular interest, but also raising questions about the progress of the project, are the arguments of both sides, with the contractor claiming long delays in the delivery of the project sites during the preliminary works, which also involve the main project. For its part, the competent authority attributes to the contractor delays in the preparation of the necessary studies, even for sites that have been delivered to it.
It is recalled that in a public statement by the Deputy Minister Mr. Nikos Tachias, has told the contractor of Line 4 that he must complete the project in 2029 under the signed contract, noting, at the same time, that the company has received a 57.7 million euro bonus for timely implementation, which otherwise will be asked to return.
In particular, based on the letter sent to Hellenic Metro on 17 February 2023, which formed the basis of the request, the consortium focused on the delays in the deliveries of the sites for the development of the project's construction sites. As a result of the delays, it noted at the time that there was no rational planning for the scheduling of the project's studies and works, "therefore obliging itself to prolonged inactivity and underutilisation of its allocated resources".
The contractor is, in fact, allegedly forced to constantly redesign its resources and their utilisation, to cause delays in the preparation of studies and to manage the engineering equipment in an unorthodox manner. Delays that end up entailing an increase in costs and an equal loss to the same. It attributes the loss to the overheads of the construction sites, the project overheads and the headquarters costs of the company, calculating the daily loss at EUR 35 000.
Solution or thorn in the side of the precursor work?
One of the big stakes with which the Athens Metro Line 4 project was launched was the separate tender for the precursor works. A bet that dealt the contractor deck, but it remains to be seen whether or not it ultimately helped the better and more consistent execution of the main project.
Although the report will be taken at the end, the initial conclusions are not encouraging about the method followed by the political leadership of the Ministry of Infrastructure in 2018. Much of the delay, already locked at one year against the original schedule that closed on 20.06.2029, is attributed to this choice.
In essence, with a tender that was ahead of schedule, but with the Greek pathologies completed with a long delay, ERETVO was tasked with preparing the sites where the construction sites for the main project are being set up. It is characteristic that the first sites for the start of the preparatory work, i.e. archaeological sections and network relocations, were reserved almost in parallel with the signing of the major EUR 1.51 billion contract with the Abax-Ghella-Alstom scheme.
At a quarter of the planned progress
In particular, by the first quarter of the year, as the contractor quotes, of the 32 project sites, only 4 had been delivered on time by Hellenic Metro, a total of 22 had not been delivered, while the rest had been delivered with a delay of up to 433 days. It is noted that obstacles were found in 4 of the delivered sites.
All of the above had resulted in a contractual scope of 23.19% of the planned scope being executed from the signing of the contract until the end of May 2023. The contractor therefore determined that its inputs were therefore 76.81% against planned. In particular, for the 25 project sites where it identified significant delays in the deliveries of the worksites, its actual inputs were reduced by 89.62%.
Delays in studies
On the contrary, the competent department of the Ministry of Infrastructure, following the recommendation of Hellenic Metro, also rejected as unfounded the claims of the contractor, as the delay in cash inflows it expected was due to the simultaneous delay in the production of the project. As explained by the agency, in the locations that have not yet been delivered to the contractor, construction sites with personnel and machinery have not even been developed and installed, and therefore, no expenditures are being carried out to the extent that the contractor is being harmed in this regard.
It should be pointed out emphatically that the scope of the project is not only construction, but also design. It is attributed to the contractor's delay in the preparation of the preliminary studies, which must be approved by Hellenic Metro in order for the construction sites to be handed over to it. The service informs that in all the construction sites that have not been delivered, the relevant cycle of studies has not been completed through the sole fault of the contractor.
In addition to the necessary approvals of studies, under the contractual obligation, "there was not even a submission of the Application Studies of temporary support (except for the station Zografou and the Library shaft)." As identified in the last update of the timetable last July, it seems that "at every location of the project there is a delay in the completion of the studies. This is either due to the delay in the execution and submission of the EIA, or the long period of time between the approval of the EIA and the preparation and submission of the Final Design and Implementation Studies".