THESSALONIKI METRO - Interview given by the Chairman of ATTIKO METRO S.A. BoD about THESSALONIKI METRO Project
ATTIKO METRO S.A. (AM), representing the Greek State and in view of providing accurate and complete information to the public, hereby presents the interview given by the Chairman of the BoD and Managing Director, Mr. Christos Tsitouras, to the newspaper “ANGELIOPHOROS” (dated 10.06.2012).
AM, would like to stress that the title of the subject article in the newspaper, “Metro is torpedoed. The Project runs out of money”, does not respond to the content of the interview given by the Chairman of the BoD and Managing Director of AM, since funding of the Thessaloniki Metro Project is totally secured by the Greek State, through funds deriving from the EU Programs and loans approved by the European Investment Bank (EIB).
The full text of Mr. Tsitouras’ interview is presented here-below:
Mr. Tsitouras, the construction of Thessaloniki Metro Project has almost stopped. What does AM intend to do for the works to be resumed?
Numerous difficulties, both technical and contractual, had to be overcome for the Thessaloniki Metro Project to progress. As it is well-known, the Project was put to tender on the basis of a preliminary design and the design-construction scheme. After the preparation of the final designs, which, as foreseen in the contract, is conducted during the construction of the project, complex technical problems arose. Almost all technical problems have been addressed and, as a result, at least ten work fronts have been released, in both stations and depot, enabling, thus, major development of the works and the absorption of the secured funds intended for the project. Payment certificates should exceed 15 million EURO per month, entailing positive impact on employment increase and absorption of EU funds. However, the Contracting Joint Venture, instead of developing construction activities in more worksite areas, it chooses to limit the construction works to a minimum and to raise claims that lead to the contract re-negotiation level, which is beyond AM responsibilities.
Could AM make a realistic estimate as to the commissioning date of Thessaloniki Metro?
The “critical path” concerning the Metro operation was and still is the archaeological excavation activities in the central stations of the city and, especially, in AGHIA SOFIA Station. Assuming that there is an unhindered continuation of the construction works, we believe that Thessaloniki Metro Project will be commissioned in November 2016.
Can you present us now the time schedules for the completion of the archaeological excavations in each worksite of the city center?
AM has made all possible effort in order to accelerate the execution rate of the archaeological excavations by implementing double shifts in all stations. Moreover, Professor and Academic Mr. M. Tiverios, has been hired by AM as a Consultant for the said project. Thanks to these actions, most sites of the Project have been released. Excavation activities are currently being executed in four sites, namely: “Dimokratias”, “Venizelou”, “Aghia Sofia” and in a part of the Depot.
In order to avoid any delays in the Project progress, the archaeological investigation works in “Dimokratias” and “Aghia Sofia” Stations must be completed by the end of August, a time frame which is considered achievable, with the assistance of the Archaeological Departments. Besides, AM has made available all its scientific and labor personnel, as well as all hardware infrastructure requested by the Archaeological Departments.
As regards “Venizelou” Station, where mercury has been encountered, the de-contamination of the area works, which have been assigned to a specialized company, progress rapidly, so that there is no impact on the time schedule of the project. Since the mercury is not expanded to a great depth, we deem that the time schedule set by the Ministry of Culture, i.e. for the archaeological excavation to have been completed by next October, can be adhered to.
The archaeological excavations constitute an important part of the project. The relevant budget amounts to 90 million EURO, out of which 60 million EURO has already been spent. In view of revealing the significant archaeological finds in the Metro areas, ATTIKO METRO S.A. is in contact with the relevant Departments of the Ministry of Culture.
When will the laminated sheets placed at Delfon Street, surrounding Analipseos Station worksite, be removed, thus, relieving the shop owners? Thessaloniki Metro Project Department had informed the shop owners in writing that their shops would be blocked for a ten-month period, which elapses in approximately twenty days.
Construction needs called for the prohibition of traffic in a section of Delfon Street. In order to limit the impact - in terms of time - on the residents, tradesmen and passing-by drivers, ATTIKO METRO S.A. has succeeded in applying the minimum required 10-month blocking period necessary for the completion of the works. However, this time frame will be met on condition that the relevant works executed by the contracting Joint Venture progress smoothly; nevertheless, the Joint Venture delays the execution of the works, despite the fact that its contractual obligations and the resulting social impact have been pointed out to it. Delfon Street will not remain closed to traffic if there is no imperative need, while alternative solutions must be sought, so that the remaining construction works pertaining to this station can be carried out causing the minimum possible impact on the citizens.
Moreover, a traffic study has been prepared and shall be submitted soon for approval to the Regional Services concerned for addressing traffic related problems in the eastern part of the city.
It has been six years since the commencement of Metro construction works and we still do not know what will happen with Papafi Station. When a relevant question is made, the response is always the same: “we will soon have news on that”. When will we have a clear picture?
The issue of Papafio has long puzzled Thessaloniki Project Management. I believe that the decisive contribution of Anthimos, Archbishop of Thessaloniki, has actually led to the resolution of this issue, while its typical settlement is anticipated within the next days.
Which are your estimates as to the appointment of a Contractor for the Kalamaria Extension Project, in terms of time? When do you expect the worksite installations and the commissioning of the extension?
In order to expedite the construction for the Metro Extension to Kalamaria, ATTIKO METRO S.A. has prepared - in house - the relevant designs within the minimum time frame and, thus, it secured the pertinent funding and put the Project to Tender in February 2012. The bidding Companies are anticipated to submit their offers within the next weeks. The signing of the contract and the commencement of the works could be effected within 2012 and the project could be commissioned in 2017, on condition there are no legal impediments among bidders. Moreover, the necessary expropriations must also be carried out along with the cooperation and assistance of Kalamaria Municipality, as regards the closed section of Pontou Street.
In conclusion, we hereby stress that the weakness on the part of the Contracting Joint Venture to finance the Project is now evident, despite the fact that the Public Sector – represented by ATTIKO METRO S.A. – paid and still pays the Payment Certificates (Accounts) within the contractual time frame and that it did not and does not owe any money for works that have been executed. The employees of the Contracting Joint Venture, to whom their employer owes their salaries for days, actually worked, will receive their payments within the next days directly by ATTIKO METRO S.A. At the same time, we are proceeding to all lawful actions in order to address the delays encountered. I would like to repeat once more that Thessaloniki Metro Project, which is a complex project by nature, implemented during an unprecedented financial and social crisis experienced by our country, will not serve as the field for any controversy or communication conflict. Let us all struggle to deliver this project to the citizens of Thessaloniki, as soon as possible.
Back to Press Releases