ZAGREB, March 26 (Xinhua) -- Croatian State Commission for Supervision of Public Procurement Procedures rejected on Monday all appeals against the selection of a Chinese consortium to build Peljesac bridge, state television reported.
After more than two months of analyzing their allegations, the state commission rejected appeals from Austrian construction firm Strabag, as well as from the consortium of Italian Astaldi and Turkish IC Ictas, both bidders for the construction of Peljesac bridge, one of the most important infrastructure projects in Croatia.
The Croatian state-owned motorway operator Hrvatske Ceste (Croatian Roads) awarded the project to the third bidder, a consortium led by China Road and Bridge Corporation in January.
The Commission decided that the consortium led by China Road and Bridge Corporation is fulfilling all technical conditions for the project and that the price claims in the appeal are not accurate.
The Austrian firm, the statement says, has compared individual items in the budget that cannot be representative of the whole project.
The Austrian firm and Italian-Turkish consortium were complaining about the price the Chinese consortium has offered for such a big project. Chinese offer was the lowest, 2.08 billion kuna (about 340 million U.S. dollars). Austrian company's offer was 2.62 billion kuna (about 432 million U.S. dollars) while Italian-Turkish consortium offered 2.55 billion kuna (about 426 million U.S. dollars). The estimated cost of this bridge by Croatia was 1.8 billion kuna (about 300 million U.S. dollars).
They also claimed the Chinese company "received state aid" for entering the EU market, thus making them face "unfair competition".
Speaking at a press briefing in late January, Chinese Ambassador to Croatia Hu Zhaoming pointed out that the appeals against Chinese consortium were "groundless".
"I believe that the price by the Croatian side was endorsed by relevant agencies, including the European ones. If 2.08 billion kuna is a dumping price, what about 1.8 billion kuna," said Hu.
He reiterated that the Peljesac bridge project was opened for international bidding and that the Chinese consortium did not hide its identity.
The appeal rejection has removed the obstacle for the bridge construction. Daily newspaper "Vecernji list" reported that the contract with the Chinese consortium would be signed in 10 days.
The Peljesac bridge, 55-meter high and 2.4 km-long with four lanes, will connect the southernmost part of Croatia around Dubrovnik with the rest of the mainland. With the bridge, Croatia will have a direct link between the two territories, bypassing the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Neum corridor, a strip of the Adriatic coastline which is a part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is currently the only land-based communication route between Dubrovnik and the rest of Croatian mainland.