By Constantinos Psillides
Four companies have submitted bids for the Eleftheria’s Square project, according to a statement released by the Nicosia municipality on Friday.
The tenders will now be reviewed by a competent committee to verify their validity and whether they are within specification.
Construction on the now-abandoned site is expected to commence by mid-July. According to the statement, all tenders submitted exceed the cost set by the municipality. The committee will be tasked with determining whether the rise in costs is justified and if so, to suggest the allocation of additional funding to complete the project.
The municipality is in a race against time as it has to complete the project by December 15, 2015 or lose €25.5 million in EU funding. The €30 million project is 85 per cent funded by the EU, which has already given a two-year extension to the municipality. An additional extension is highly unlikely, especially for a project that is nowhere near being finished.
The whole project was initially supposed to be completed by March 2013.
The contractor who won the tender in 2011, Miltiades Neofytou Civil Engineering Contractors & Developers Ltd, finally gave up on the works last year after repeated delays drove building costs up and led to a legal dispute with the municipality.
One important delay concerned the bridge connecting Evagoras and Ledra streets and the underground parking which should have been ready by February 2013. The contractor asked for a one year extension but failed to deliver. The bridge is an essential part of the project, as it will provide access from the walled city to Makarios Avenue, giving a much-needed boost to what was once Nicosia’s busiest shopping area.
The contractor blamed the municipality and the architect for the delays and demanded a 552 day extension on the completion date and €3 million in compensation.
Faced with the probability of not finishing the project on time and losing the EU funds, the municipality recently settled with the contractor, paying the company €530,000.