All eyes are on VOAK today as the bids deadline expires. The powerful alliances have been formed and after three extensions, all is set to reveal what shape the €1.75 billion concession project will take.

The concession contract concerns the Chania-Heraklion section (and reaches as far as Hersonissos), while there is also an option for the Kissamos-Chania section worth 200 million euros. Chania-Heraklion is the main section of the highway of Crete and it has the largest passenger traffic.

Regarding the suitors, the following schemes have officially reached the B`phase of the competition: 1.AKTOR CONCESSIONS, 2.GEK TERNA, 3.AVAX, 4.VINCI, 5.Consortium of MYTILINEOS-INTERTOLL. From this composition of figures, the market assumes that Vinci will not proceed with a bid submission.

The question now is if the other four create stronger alliances (most likely) and if we have the entry of a foreign player (leaks talk about EGIS Projects), however it remains to be seen. INTRAKAT’s participation was played until the last minute.

What will follow up to the contract

If we have a successful outcome today, then the ministry will begin the evaluation, first of the technical and then of the financial offers. This will take some months, depending on the participation (if it is one or more claimants).

Then the temporary contractor will be announced and if we have no legal disputes, the pre-contractual period will begin with the writing of the concession contract, its approval by the Court of Auditors. The next stage will be its ratification by the Hellenic Parliament (it will become a Law of the State) and finally its signature.

Overall from similar cases, it will take about a year for all of the above to happen with moderate projections. The construction will not start immediately, as the concession holder will be required to prepare the necessary studies while the State will have to hand over the necessary lands in due time to start the construction works. This will be done gradually and not massively.

The largest concession project

The Chania-Heraklion section of VOAK is currently the largest active concession tender. Its bidding started on October 18, 2018. In July last year, the environmental conditions of the project were approved, with the result that at the end of the year the start of the final phase for the submission of bids was announced.

The financing of the project will come from public and private funds. The State has made sure to cover 800 million euros for the project. The 600 million euros will be from the NSRF 2021-2027 and the remaining 200 million euros from the Recovery Fund. The rest of the money must be covered by the concessionaire.

However, the market argues that this is an unsustainable cost which is quite difficult in the current financial conditions to cover. This will be seen today from the submission of tenders. Hardly any of the big Greek Groups will be missing today. This is because there is no other large concession on the horizon and the concession projects have a great added value to the operation.

In the operation of the department, the installation of electronic tolls at a price of 0.063 euros per kilometer has also been provided. Due to the intended loss-making operation, an additional “shadow toll” has also been designed that the Greek State will charge to the concessionaire. The amount per kilometer is an element of today’s offers.

From the tolls that will operate in the Chania-Heraklion section, the bypasses of the cities of Chania, Rethymno and Heraklion are excluded. The system will be electronic and will be implemented through a tender of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport. It will concern the country’s intercity highways as a whole, but not the Attiki Motorway, which has a different charging system.

The project

The Chania – Heraklion section of VOAK is 157.5 km long. A very important element is the construction of 34 km of tunnels (for both traffic streams, i.e. proportionally 17 km in each direction).

Its construction is considered a great challenge as it will resemble the construction of the Corinth-Patras highway. This is because in its largest part we will have a widening of the existing axis, so we will have simultaneous construction and operation.

Among the advantages of this construction system, it is estimated that there will be a rapid reduction in accidents and mishaps, due to the restrictions that will exist during the works that will last approximately 4 years.

In detail, the technical characteristics of the Chania – Heraklion section are as follows:

– Length of motorway: 157.5 km and lateral/vertical network approximately 150 km.

– 2 traffic lanes in each direction with LEA (Road shoulder)

– 26 tunnels

– 10.80 km of new bridges, 23 of which exceed 100 meters in length

– 20 new uneven junctions and upgrading of the existing 18 uneven junctions in the Bypasses of Chania, Rethymnon, Heraklion.


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