Posts Tagged ‘corruption’

Road built on sand and a dodgy contract

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Major highways in Poland. Map by GDDKiA. Translation P2E.

(Click map to enlarge.)

On Wednesday 25 August, BTWT posted Journey to Hel showing how holidaymakers were suffering third world conditions in PKP IC trains as a result of Poland’s lop-sided transport policy. The article posed the question whether the pro-road bias had anything to do with the greater opportunities that road building gave those in power to make a little money. As if on cue, two major road building scandals have erupted in the national press.

The first of these first appeared in the Rzeczpospolita daily on the same day as our article. At the beginning of 2010, the General Directorate for National Roads and Motorways (GDDKiA) gave a 7.5 million zloty (1.9 million euro) planning contract to Tarnow-based MGGP and Complex Projekt without holding a tender. Malgorzata Grad, the wife of Treasury Minister, Aleksander Grad, was Deputy Chairman of MGGP, one of Poland’s largest surveying and project groups, and is now a partner of company run by Franciszek Grybos, a childhood friend, of the Minister, which operates from the same address as MGGP. When challenged by journalists GDDKiA spokesman, Marcin Hadaj, explained that the award of the contract to MGGP was the only solution as the company help the copyright to the motorway plans. But Hadaj’s explanation only begs the question why a contract with this unusual copyright provision was approved by GDDKiA’s Katowice regional head mgr inz. Krzysztof Raj.

The second scandal broke two days later on Friday 27 August and concerns the building of the A1 motorway which will link Gdansk in the north to Grorzycki in the south. Under the headline Motorway built on sand, the PAP news agency reported allegations that during the day the contractors building the motorway laid a bed of good quality dolomite ballast upon which the tarmac road metal was supposed to be laid. During the night the dolomite was carefully removed, taken away in dozens of trucks and replaced with earth. The dolomite was then reused the following day. Each delivery of ballast was billed as a new delivery. The scam has apparently being going on for several months. Each delivery truck carries 30 tonnes of ballast. With good quality dolomite ballast costing up to 300 PLN per tonne, it is thought that the perpetrators have defrauded the Polish tax payer of millions of zloty.

Jeśli nie wiadomo o co chodzi, to chodzi o pieniądze.


10,000 million zloty down the drain?

Monday, 19 July 2010

Lodz Fabryczna as enlarged by PKP after WW I.

The Koluszki – Lodz railway line – a branch of the Warsaw – Vienna Railway – was opened on 18 November 1865 for the carriage of goods. Passenger services were inaugurated on 1 June 1866. Initially, the railway reached further west than at present; a temporary station was built at the location now occupied by the Lodzki Dom Kultury (Lodz Arts Centre). In 1868, the current Lodz Fabryczna station was built at the initiative of Lodz industrialist and philanthropist, Karol Scheibler. It was designed by Adolf Schimmelpfennig. The station was built in a Baroque-baronial style and when after WWI the newly formed PKP came to enlarge the station, the new extensions were carefully designed to complement the existing building. The extended station survived WW II and also was left unscathed by post-was PKP’s mania for demolishing all buildings of any architectural merit and replacing them with modernist non-entities.

So what are PKP and the City of Lodz planning for the future of Karol Scheibler’s station? Scheibler did after all establish Lodz as a major centre of Europe’s textile industry and his factories and railway lines established the shape of the modern city. Maybe they will give the historic building a light skin of glass like the Gare de Strasbourg in France? Not a bit of it! The plan is to demolish Scheibler’s building and replace it with an underground station at a cost of some 10,000 million PLN.

The new Lodz Centralna as envisaged by PKP

Juliusz Engelhardt, the Undersecretary of State at the Ministry of Infrastructure responsible for rail, has recently said that only 22 of Poland’s 1,000 top stations come up to contemporary requirements. Rafal Szafranski, the chairman of PKP PLK (the Polish State Railways infrastructure company) has said that some 10,000 route kilometres of Poland’s railways face the axe. In such circumstances sending 10,000 million putting Lodz Fabryczna underground is an act of wanton folly. And the reason for this madness? To turn make Lodz a ‘City of Culture’. Poor Karol Scheibler must be turning in his mausoleum.