2004 village is on right track for time, but a strain on budget

A whole town to house over 17,000 athletes during the 2004 Olympic Games is being built in the foothills of Mt Parnitha. The Olympic Village, the largest Olympic project, is the one making the most progress, with a third of the work completed only eight months after it began. However, the Workers’ Housing Organization (OEK), which, through its subsidiary «Olympic Village 2004,» is in charge of the project, is trying to speed up procedures in two other important sectors – the international zone, where auxiliary buildings are to be built – and the green zone Green zone The competition for the green zone, which covers over half the village area of 700,000 square meters, is considerably behind schedule and is likely to put more of a burden on the budget, as was pointed out by the members of the International Olympic Committee. As vegetation needs time to grow, OEK is going to buy older trees which cost much more. According to sources, various scenarios are being examined in conjunction with the Athens 2004 Organizing Committee, including a search for donors who would act as Games sponsors by providing trees. Based on OEK’s current estimates, the cost of the green zone ranges from 15-30 million euros. The study was recently assigned to a consortium of design offices and OEK’s management believes that a tender will be issued next September. International zone Recently, there was some progress in the international zone following a decision to split it in two – one part as a public project and the rest to be assigned to the private sector. OEK President Thanassis Asimakopoulos says that the contractor for the second part will be chosen within the next few days, and the tender for the first part (which will house Labor Ministry services and the Institute for Geological and Mining Research [IGME] after the Games) will be issued in August. He also said that the contractors who are to build the school buildings, road and flood drainage systems have recently moved in, while the study for the kindergarten is being completed. A few days ago, the contractor for the polyclinic was chosen (the K. Kourtidis company), while Athens 2004 is making the final adjustments to the sporting facilities in order to call for bids for the other installations in early June. Other projects related to access to the village are proceeding at a satisfactory pace, as well as other power and water supply projects. Delays Around 2,300 people are currently working on the Olympic Village housing project. The powerful unions, coupled with daily inspections by the Social Security Foundation (IKA) and the Labor Inspectorate, have often led to considerable tension. Relations between Olympic Village 2004 and the construction companies, as well as with the unions, have caused major delays. The technical companies have drastically increased safety measures following a serious accident recently. Based on the current rate of progress, the housing project will be ready a month ahead of schedule, which is October 30, 2003. The remaining installations are to be ready by the end of February 2004. The residents who have obtained the homes through OEK will be able to move in six months after Athens 2004 hands them over to OEK, that is in the first half of 2005.