Rivals on Maliakos Gulf project agree to share concession

Rival construction consortia competing for the tender of the Maliakos Gulf segment of the Athens-to-Thessaloniki national highway have decided to drop all legal challenges and share the 1-billion-euro project, the Environment and Public Works Ministry announced yesterday. This development is seen to be the result of the European Commission’s August 12 decision to let the ministry make the final choice on awarding public project tenders. Greece’s two biggest construction groups, Aktor and J&P Avax, allied to France’s Vinci and Germany’s Hochtief respectively, have been involved in a war of injunctions over seven road projects for years. «The two groups informed us of their decision to desist from all legal means, essentially recognizing the propriety of the tender procedures, and asked to cooperate in jointly constructing the project,» Minister Giorgos Souflias told a press briefing. The concession agreement, according to which the builders will charge toll fees, is expected to be signed before the end of the year. The project includes the construction of a new, 25-kilometer motorway from Tempe to Skotina, and improvements to the 205-kilometer Maliakos-Kleidi segment, which is considered dangerous as a high number of accidents have taken place there. The Commission’s decision seems to have brought relief to the ministry, as the interminable legal objections regarding six of the seven concession projects have caused several other major foreign construction companies to withdraw their interest. Further delays would risk losing EU investment subsidies.