Strabag complains about “unusually low prices” in rival’s bid to build Peljesac bridge

Strabag complains about “unusually low prices” in rival’s bid to build Peljesac bridge
By bne IntelliNews January 24, 2018

Austrian construction company Strabag has filed a complaint to Croatia’s state commission for public procurement over the tender for construction of the Peljesac bridge. 

The 2.4km Peljesac bridge will connect the Croatian mainland with the Peljesac peninsula, giving Croatia a continuous land link that bypasses Bosnian territory. The infrastructure project has been an ongoing topic of dispute between Bosnia and Croatia since 2007, when the construction of the bridge was first announced. 

Fresh controversy has now erupted over the decision announced on January 12 to select a consortium of companies led by China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) to build the bridge. 

Strabag, which was also among the bidders, claimed that prices of some of the items in the bid from the CBRC-led consortium were too cheap. 

In a statement emailed to bne IntelliNews, a Strabag spokesperson confirmed that the company had complaint against the award of the Pelješac Bridge on January 23. 

“We claim that certain items in the CRBC JV tender bid are unusually cheap. We emphasise the authority's obligation to question unusually low prices according to EU law,” the company said. 

The CRBC-led consortium won the tender based on its bid to build the bridge for HRK2.08bn (€274.4mn), according to a January 12 statement from Croatian road operator Hrvatske Ceste (HC). "The offer was evaluated according to the criteria as the most economically advantageous and amounts to 2,081,608,270.72 kuna (excluding VAT)," HC said on January 12.

This is well below the €357mn in Cohesion Policy funds allocated by the European Commission for the project in June 2017. 

Among the three bidders, Strabag’s offer was the highest and amounted to HRK2.6bn, Reuters reported. The third bidder for the project was a consortium comprising Italy’s Astaldi and Turkey’s IC Ictas, which offered to carry our the works for HRK2.5bn. 

The winning consortium consists also of CCCC Highway Consultants Co. Ltd., CCCC Second Highway Engineering Co. Ltd. and CCCC Second Harbour Engineering Co. Ltd. 

Croatia wants to build the bridge so its citizens can reach the south of the country without crossing into Bosnia. On the other hand, Bosnia has protested that the bridge would prevent large ships from entering the port of Neum.