Cyprus Mail

Final bids in for Nicosia’s gaping hole

The abandoned construction site

By Constantinos Psillides

NICOSIA municipality is back on track in completing the Eleftheria Square revamp, announcing yesterday that five bids had been submitted by contractors willing to take on the project, abandoned for nearly two years that left a gaping hole in the heart of the capital.

The contractors short-listed for the tender are A. Panayides Contracting, Cybarco, Cyfield Development, Iakovou-Zemco Joint Venture and Lois Builders.

The bids will be evaluated by a three-person committee which was set up before the bids were opened, according to a municipality statement. The committee is tasked with drafting a report with suggestions to the municipality’s Tenders Board which will have the final word on awarding the tender.

The contractor has a little over a year to complete the project or else the municipality runs the risk of losing 85 per cent of its financing, which comes from EU structural funds. The deadline for completing the project is December 2015, although a source within the municipality told the Cyprus Mail that the project could get an extension of a few months.

“A lot went on with this project, some of which weren’t our fault. If we are on track then, a small extension can be granted,” the source said.
The municipality appears optimistic, saying in the statement that the project will be completed on time and that when it’s finished it will attract many visitors to the capital.

“Nicosia will invest in revamping the capital’s centre with a project by Zaha Hadid which was never done in Cyprus. A complex and multidimensional project that requires precision and quality of construction, filled with unique artistic elements.”

As for the project’s cost, that will depend on the bids submitted. In a discussion at the House of Representatives last month, MPs told the press that the cost of the project – which includes landscaping and the construction of a two-storey underground car park on Omirou Avenue – has shot up from an initial €18m to €30m.

This is the second time the municipality has proceeded with a tender process for Eleftheria Square. The first attempt, in the summer, reached a dead-end after municipal officials opened the bids and realised that even the lowest one was 30 per cent over the estimated budget.

“We are hoping that this will not be an issue now. It remains to be seen. Everyone here is hoping that this is a smooth sail,” said the source.

Discussion of revamping the square first began decades ago, with Nicosia municipality putting out tenders in 2004 aimed at completing the project in time for Cyprus’ rotating presidency of the Council of the EU, in 2012.

Construction has been abandoned after repeated delays drove building costs up and led to a legal dispute between the contractor and the municipality. It was meant to finish last year.

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 higher and led to a legal dispute with the municipality.

An important holdup was the bridge connecting Evagoras and Ledra streets and the underground parking which should have been ready by February 2013. The contractor asked for a year’s extension but failed to deliver.

The contractor had blamed the municipality and the architect for the delays and demanded a 552 day extension on the completion date and €3m in compensation.

Faced with the prospect of not finishing the project on time and losing the EU funds, the municipality recently settled with the contractor, paying the company €530,000.

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