Croatian media are reporting a dispute between two consortia and that of the China Road and Bridges over the Peljeski bridge project.
Croatia’s national roads company Hrvatske Ceste chose China Road and Bridges but the decision is being challenged by a consortium led by the Italian firm Astaldi and one by Turkish CT Ictas.
The two consortia submitted their complaints to the Croatian State Commission for Control of Public Ordering Processes in January only days after similar action by another consortia led by the Austrian firm Strabag.
The Turkish and Italian consortium tendered bids around €343 million Strabag offered around €349 million. But China Road and Bridges came in at around €208 million.
Bids for construction of the four-lane 2.4km bridge were submitted in the middle of last year. The bridge will connect physically Croatian territory by traversing the Adriatic Sea’s Mali Ston Bay. Vehicles must currently head from Croatia into Bosnia to re-enter a peninsula that is Croatian territory.
While the bridge will be good for the economy of the Croatian area, Bosnia and Herzegovina has in the past requested that Croatia pause procurement for the project pending discussions between the two countries over the design.
Bosnia’s concern is that the largest ocean-going ships should have access up Ston Bay to Bosnia’s only sea port, Neum, should the Bosnian government decide to upgrade the terminals there.
Discussions have resulted in Croatia accepting design changes – and added costs - suggested by Bosnia, including an increase of bridge's height from 35m to 55m and spacing bridge supports at least 200m apart.
Project completion was originally set for 2022.
In June, the European Commission approved €357 million of the European Union’s Cohesion Policy funds to build the bridge – around 85% of the project’s cost. The European Union is also funding supporting infrastructure, such as the construction of access roads, including tunnels, bridges and viaducts, the building of an 8km-long bypass near the town of Ston and upgrading works on the existing road D414.