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Thessaloniki underground is about to collapse

05 September 2012 / 17:09:49  GRReporter
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Thessaloniki underground is about to collapse, Michalis Simas warned, who manages the construction consortium implementing the project. Archaeological studies of the route had a budget of 15 million euro and were to be completed within 8-10 months. Instead, they continued for more than five years and cost the Greek taxpayer 90 million euro, the constructors said. "Land ownership of many of the stations has not been established three months before the initial deadline of the project (October 2012)," reads Simas’ official letter to the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure.

Construction works for the underground in Thessaloniki began in 1986. It was estimated at that time that the second largest city in Greece would have by the autumn of this year a fully functioning underground transport system, which would facilitate the traffic in the northern Greek city. The company "Athens Underground" SA completed part of the route. Then, in 2006, the project was awarded to the construction consortium "ΑΕΓΕΚ-IMPREGILO-ANSALDO TSF-SELI-ANSALDOBREDA", according to which administrative barriers and the inaction of the state are threatening the construction of the underground in Thessaloniki. The contractor pointed out that the timeframe for completing the project has been seriously broken. At a time when 95% of the work connected with the underground should have been completed, the completion is only 24% and the consortium accused the first contractor "Athens Underground" SA of the situation.

Experts estimate that the new deadline for putting the underground in operation in November 2016 is unrealistic too. The eastern part of the underground has been delayed because the suggested change in the digging of tunnels was not accepted. Simas estimated that the construction of the underground depot near the main railway station could only continue, but the construction works have been delayed due to problems with subcontractors.

Thessaloniki underground has become an endless saga and Thessalonians often joke and use the expression "when the underground will be completed" as a synonym of impossible situations. The project has ended up in a net created by state bureaucracy, changing policies and priorities by different governments and various corporate interests. As a result, decades after the first sod, residents and visitors of Thessaloniki have been wading in dust or mud on central streets, jumping over holes and shops closed because the streets in front of their windows have been broken and digging has been going on for years.

Meanwhile, the well-known cumbersome and inefficient state system has come out with all its glamour. One example is the construction of Aia Sophia stop. Initially, is should have been built within 4.5 years. However, its construction took 10 years and twice as much resource. Another example could be Patrikos Analipsi stop, where there are significant construction irregularities, according to the report by Michalis Simas. He insisted that the consortium, which took over the completion of the project, has found a situation very different from what was originally agreed, which would affect the end result.

Tags: UndergroundThessalonikiProjectDelay
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