TASR, Teraz.sk, 27.08.2014

Experts Challenge Tender on Broad-gauged Railway Due to Low Price.

Bratislava/Vienna, August 27 (TASR) - Some of the unsuccessful bidders who took part in the tender on carrying out a study into feasibility of extending the broad-gauged railway from eastern Slovakia to Vienna, are considering to appeal against the result, TASR learnt on Wednesday.

      According to information obtained by TASR, two companies owned by the same parent company featured in two competing consortiums. More specifically, a company called Valbek s.r.o. features in the victorious consortium, while this company is a subsidiary of Valbek VZ. Both the latter company's website and the Trade Registry reveal that the company has ownership links with PRODEX, which is part of an unsuccessful consortium along with Schimetta and Tectum.

      Lawyer Jana Martinkova told TASR that this case doesn't involve any conflict of interest, however.

      "Participation of companies linked in terms of ownership isn't directly forbidden. Nevertheless, it raises undesired doubts that these companies may have coordinated their moves in the tender ... which may have affected economic competition,"Attorney at law Martinkova told TASR.
      The tender has also been criticised by construction experts.

"It's strange that a consortium featuring Valbek s.r.o. was able to win [the tender]. According to my information, this company hasn't anything to do with rail constructions and it hasn't prepared any project for rail construction so far," Dopravoprojekt general director Gabriel Koczkas told TASR.

      Eduard Manco, director of Valbek s.r.o., confirmed that his company is part of the winning consortium.

      "It was announced to the consortium that we, as bidders, had presented a bid that was evaluate d as the most advantageous in technical and economic terms, and that there was an intention to sign a contract with the consortium," he told TASR in a written statement. He added that the tender continues, and only the organiser of the tender can provide further information.

      The Bernard-Obermayer-Valbek consortium won the tender with a bid of less than €6 million. Unsuccessful bidders are considering to appeal due what it seems to them too a low price, which is very similar to that for a preliminary study drawn up by Roland Berger in 2011. The current document should be far more comprehensive, however.
      According to Martinkova(Jurist Advocatus Martinková s.r.o), if two bidders are cooperating, they may make it appear that their cheap bids aren't that unrealistic after all, which may help one of the bidders to gain an advantage when its bid is being evaluated.

      The study was commissioned by Vienna-based company Breitspur Planungsgesellschaft, which is managed by Austrian, Ukrainian, Russian and Slovak rail companies. Slovak rail company Zeleznice Slovenskej Republiky (ZSR) has confirmed that the selection process is entirely in the hands of the Austrians. The tender had to conform with Austrian legislation and regulations, and the announcement on its organisation was published in th e European Public Procurement Bulletin.

      Slovak Transport, Construction and Regional Development Minister Jan Pociatek claims that the €6-billion project should only bring positives for Slovakia. This strategic project would connect Asia and Europe via an alternative route to maritime transport.

      The Slovak Opposition is criticising the project, however, claiming that the area of Cierna nad Tisou (Kosice region), with its rail terminal, which currently boasts being the "biggest harbour on land in Central Euro pe" due to all trains having to change gauges there, will lose hundreds of jobs.

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