Engineers hostage to the will of the construction companies
The problems in the public works sector are legion, chronic and difficult to untangle. Project designs began to improve in the middle of the 1980s, when there was more demand, but this was not accompanied by an improvement in state agencies, so the assignment of projects is still part of a process that involves major kickbacks. «The person responsible for the design should be independent of the construction company, both during the design phase and the construction,» said Ioannis Patas, president and managing director of the SIMA SA civil engineering company. «That is obviously why no one involved in the process wants proper designs to be drawn up, because it would mean an end to any margin for overcharging,» he added. Patas said the new bill does not go far enough. «The bill does not introduce the changes necessary to clean up the public works sector. If there is no provision for the engineers’ full responsibility for the solutions they propose and if they are not forced to supervise the project, the current situation will continue. These days, many design companies have essentially given up their independence, as they depend for their survival on the construction companies. At the same time, there has to be an end to the assigning of projects without first calling for bids, to bring about some transparency,» he said. Patas said it was common practice to change the plans without informing the designer. «Project designers have always wanted to be jointly responsible for supervising projects, but have always been ignored. No designs were ever registered, so no one really knows who has designed what. There is a design register, but that is not enough – the engineers have to be held responsible for the cost of the project, its duration and effectiveness. We have to put an end to the idea that the design is the property of any official who assigns it and gets rich from it. Only then will there be any improvement,» explained Patas.