NEWS

Marathon road winner selected

As new Premier Costas Karamanlis vowed yesterday to spare no effort in expediting preparations for the August Olympics, Public Works Ministry officials selected a new company to finish a crucial, long-delayed highway in eastern Attica along which the marathon race will be run. But the general secretary for the Olympics, Costas Cartalis, resigned from his post despite being asked to stay on by Karamanlis. The J&P Abax consortium won the tender for the 14.4-million-euro road project after the bids were opened yesterday. The work must be completed 110 days after the contract signing – expected to take place at the end of March, following approval by the State Auditing Council. All four bidders offered discounts of more than 30 percent. The project involves widening a 17-kilometer (10.5-mile) stretch of the Marathon-to-Aghia Paraskevi highway. A new tender had to be held after the company initially chosen for the work, European Technical, ran into deep financial difficulties and was unable to pay its employees and subcontractors. This resulted in strikes last month, which considerably added to delays. Now, the Public Works Ministry proposes to cash the 2.3-million-euro letters of guarantee provided by Emporiki and Piraeus banks for European Technical. The project will be at the center of talks on Saturday between Karamanlis and other top officials with visiting International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge. Yesterday, Karamanlis promised that his government «will do everything possible to ensure the Games will be the best and safest ever held.» «We must undertake every effort to be absolutely ready… because it is the image of contemporary Greece that is being judged,» he said. A major Greek-US Olympic security drill kicked off in Greece.