The waiting continues for the delivery of the new Eleftheria Square which counts three years and eight months of delay, Phileleftheros reports, as the initial estimated date of delivery was April 6, 2016 when the new contractor took on the project.
The works had started in 2012 by the first contractor Miltiades Neophytou Civil Engineering Contractors & Developers Ltd who had planned to finish the bridge on February 6, 2013 and the Omirou street parking lot (the two were a single project) on February 2, 2014. Based on this scenario, the total delay is two months short of six years.
Today the venture amounts to nothing less than a national scandal with no end in sight, as key issues remain unresolved. It remains unknown if the current contractor will be the one to complete the cafeterias or whether that job will be passed on to a different contractor. The latter would of course entail further delays.
Meanwhile a conflict is brewing between the architect, the contractor and the Municipality over the final bill with millions of euros at stake.
The Municipality had initially estimated the cost at €6.5 million but after the evaluation of submitted offers proceeded with executing a €22.969,000 contract with Miltiades Neophytou for Eleftheria Square and Omirou Street.
When Neophytou walked away from the agreement the project was broken down in two, Eleftheria Square and Omirou Street. The former was awarded to the current contractor for €17.5 million and Omirou Street for €5.137.000 + VAT.
So far the current contractor has received €20 million and an additional €4 million was paid to the previous one. €5.137.000 for Omirou Street is also due in addition to the sums to be paid for delays in its delivery.
What is more, the contractor is claiming damages from the architect for an unspecified amount regarding additions and modifications to the project as well as delays in the assigning of works. If the parties fail to resolve the dispute between themselves or through arbitration, the case is expected to go to court.
Meanwhile, the Central Committee on Changes and Claims (CCCC) of the Treasury of the Republic interceded regarding the discrepancies resulting in an agreement between the parties that should the project not be delivered by January 3, 2018 a penalty of €6,000 a day would be imposed on the contractor until the works finish. The penalty has today reached €3,450,000 and even though the CCCC is applying pressure for the money to be deducted from payments, the Municipality appears reluctant to make the deductions so that the building site remains in operation, although it is reportedly adding the debt on account.
Regarding Omirou Street, it was due for delivery last November but that was moved to February 2020 blaming most of the delay on last winter’s rainy weather.
On what happens now and estimations on when the square will finally be delivered, Phileleftheros was told that the latest missed deadline for the square was last October but that the Municipality has not abandoned its intention to welcome the new Square as soon as possible.
The contractor points out that the works are nearly finished and the only thing pending is the arrival of the last benches in Cyprus and their installation, as well as the removal of the fencing which can take place as early as the coming days. Lighting trials also took place, he continues, and everything appears to be in order. If the Municipality wishes to hold Christmas celebrations in the square, he added, nobody is stopping them.
In the moat area, the contractor says that it’s finished except the interior of the restaurants for which it will be decided whether those can be taken on by the prospective operators of the businesses who may wish to modify them anyway. This solution would save unnecessary expenses, he says. All in all, the contractor anticipates to finish the moat works within January 2020.
Finally, regarding the cracks spotted on the moat columns recently it has been reported that they will be restored in the next two to three weeks. Meanwhile experts advised that they do not pose a threat to the safety of the structure.