The puzzle for the implementation of VOAK after yesterday’s signing and the middle section from Hersonissos to Neapolis is being completed. The project implemented through PPP is the second to enter the construction phase after the Neapolis-Agios Nikolaos section which has already been signed from the beginning of September 2022.

The signed contract concerns the section VOAK from the Hersoniss junction in Heraklion to Neapoli in Lasithi, 22.5 km long, with a budget of 290 million euros, of which 90 million will be financed by the Recovery Fund. The construction is undertaken by the consortium GEK TERNA-AKTOR CONCESSIONS-INTRAKAT. With regard to the Neapolis-Agios Nikolaos section, which is implemented as a public project, the construction has been undertaken by AKTOR.

It is worth remembering that the PPP tender started on October 18, 2018 with the expression of interest. On January 24, 2022, the offer was submitted by the above scheme where it was recently declared temporary contractor for the middle part of VOAK.

With these two projects, we now have under construction the section of VOAK from Hersonissos to Agios Nikolaos, approximately 38 kilometers long, i.e. approximately 20% of the total project.

The last pending section that now remains is the Chania-Hersonissos section, 157 kilometers long for which the tender is proceeding with the concession method. This is the main part of VOAK, as it will serve the three largest cities of Crete, namely Chania, Rethymno and Heraklion.

As mentioned yesterday by the Deputy Minister of Infrastructure Giorgos Karagiannis, at the relevant signing ceremony, on May 8, the binding documents will be submitted. The budget for this section amounts to 1.75 billion euros, of which 600 million euros have been secured from the new NSRF 2021-2027 and 200 million from the Recovery Fund. In this large project, it has been included as an option and the maturation for the Kissamos – Chania section is progressing.

The total budget of the project, for the three sections, amounts to 2.5 billion euros. VOAK is the last major pending issue in the field of the country’s major highways. With its completion and in combination with other additions, such as Patra-Pyrgos, the northern and southern sections of the E65, Ioannina-Kakavia, the flyover and the extensions of Attiki Odos, the country’s motorway network will reach 3,000 kilometers.

VOAK, when operational, will have electronic tolls from the first day of operation. It will be the first highway that, upon its opening, will have a proportional toll system, i.e. payment according to the kilometers traveled by the user.

The history of VOAK

Yesterday’s signing for the middle section was the last act of a tender that started in 2018. A very interesting fact is that we arrived at the implementation of VOAK through three different methods, namely concession, PPP and public project.

During the period when the investigation of how the implementation of such a large project could be carried out, the initial thought was concession. However, at that time, in 2017, was the period in which Eurostat was giving the green light to PPP projects, considering them not burdening the debt while the concessions had instead gone into the debt.

Additionally, from the entire axis of VOAK, there was enough traffic in the Chania-Heraklion section, in the other sections – as well as in the larger section of the highways – the numbers didn’t’ add up.

Then, the decision was made to break the project into three so that it could be implemented in its entirety. That is, to take the area needed for implementation by the concession method, the Chania-Heraklion section.

In addition, the eastern part, from Neapolis to Agios Nikolaos, could proceed through the NSRF (at that time there was still no Recovery Fund). Thus, the middle section, from Hersonissos to Neapolis, 22.5 km long, was decided to be implemented through PPP, untying the hands of the Ministry of Infrastructure. 

In this way, the announcement of the tenders for the concession and PPP sections (Chania-Hersonissos and Hersonissos-Naples) started in 2018 with the expression of interest.

In 2020, with the advent of the covid-19 pandemic, the European Union decided to establish the Recovery and Resilience Fund. From the structure of resources, VOAK emerged victorious with approximately 450 million euros. So from 2021, the financial part was also completed and thus the tenders (beyond their maturation that ran) could now proceed.

At the beginning of 2022, the tender was announced, as a public project, for the Neapolis-Agios Nikolaos section, with coverage from the NSRF and the Recovery Fund. The tender procedures ran, with the result that on September 5, the project was signed, with AKTOR as the contractor. 

The second part was completed yesterday with the signatures for the middle section, as a PPP, and now we await the offers for the main section and then the signatures that will activate the constructions along the axis of VOAK.


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