The Slovenia Times

Civil group demands audit of Koper-Divača rail project


Jadran Bajec, the head of the Task Force for Civil Oversight, told the press on Friday that he was surprised a respectable company such as Deloitte had drawn up the plan by merely assessing the data that have been available before, adjusting them and comparing them to other investments rather than presenting its own investment data.

According to Emil Milan Pintar, a member of the group, they were bothered by the fact that the authors of the investment plan state in the introduction to the document that they "accept absolutely no responsibility."

Bajec pointed out that the cost of supervision of construction works had been assessed at EUR 50m without any detailed explanation and that unpredictable costs were expected to top EUR 100m, which is "a bit much."

The council fears that those responsible for the execution of the project will stick to these figures even if the costs could be much lower. "If the project is expected to be finished in seven years, this is how long it will take, although we think it could be completed much faster," Bajec said.

Pintar also pointed to the disposal of the excavated material, saying that a number of issues remains open in this respect.

They are also bothered by two sources of financing, the toll for lorries which is to be higher at certain motorway sections and the new tax on transshipment which will be paid by the port operator Luka Koper.

The extra toll for lorries is to top EUR 14m his year. The government decided last December that the higher toll will be collected until 2053 but at the same time it is asking the EU for permission to collect it by 2063, Pintar said.

If EUR 14m is to be collected annually and considering the expected rise in transport, more than EUR 700m should be collected by 2053 and EUR 1bn by 2063, Pintar said.

The council was irked by the fact that the document speaks of EUR 122m from the extra toll by 2026, when the rail project is to be concluded, while it does not say why the extra toll will not be scrapped in 2026 and what will happen with this money. They see a similar problem with the Luka Koper tax.

The council would therefore like the government to check the consistency of the investment plan and introduce mechanisms to optimise the project.

Pintar said the document in its current form did not allow for a detailed oversight over the project.

Visiting the project's construction site in Dekani today, Infrastructure Minister Alenka Bratušek said the investment plan was a "living document", which allowed for optimisation on an ongoing basis.

She said that the extra toll was expected to bring in EUR 122m and was to be collected by the end of 2025. This money is to be used for recapitalisation of 2TDK, the company managing the project. "Thus the costs of the investment will be covered through user fee and transshipment," she said.

The head of 2TDK, Dušan Zorko, who accompanied Bratušek today, said he was also in favour of an independent audit to disperse any doubts about the project.

The civil oversight body, formally called Task Force for Civil Oversight, was formed by the government in May 2018 to improve transparency. It features members of the civil society as well as construction experts and government officials.


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