Why are Saint Petersburg authorities and the “Inzhtransstroy-Spb” company at loggerheads?
A conflict between the customer and the general contractor of the “Krestovsky” stadium reconstruction (in Saint Petersburg), where the 2018 Football World Cup will be held, became a focus of the media news at the end of last week. Now the “foam” of mutual reprimands has settled. Our “Construction.ru” observer has tried to clear up where the conflict is coming from.
Zero hour is coming
The closer the summer of 2018, the tenser the situation with the construction of stadiums for the World Cup matches, especially taking into account that from June 17th until July 2nd, 2017, Russia will be holding the “rehearsal” competition of the FIFA Confederations Cup, where champions from the different continents will play each other. As such, there is no time at all for arguments and conflicts.
The Cup games will be held in Moscow in the Spartak “Otkrytiye Arena” stadium, in Sochi in the “Fisht” stadium, in Tatarstan in the “Kazan Arena” and in the “Krestovsky” stadium in Saint Petersburg, which is also known as the “Zenit Arena”.
The Moscow and Kazan stadia are in operation now and the reconstruction of the stadium in Sochi for the World Cup 2018 is to be completed in November, but in the northern capital only 85% of the work has been carried out.
A history of knocks-on
In general, the history of the construction on Krestovsky Island is full of squabbling and twists and turns. The work started in 2007, and it was planned then that the work would be financed by Gazprom and the cost assessed at as much as 6.7 bln roubles. However, all of the construction expenses were borne by the city budget, and the total sum grew to 14 bln roubles.
The Zenit football club was supposed to play their first match in the new stadium in 2009, but both the commission terms and financing volume were being changed all the time. The cost has reached 43.8 bln roubles, but the stadium is still being constructed.
The relationship between the customer – the Saint Petersburg Construction Committee - and the general contractor – the “Inzhtransstroy-Spb” company, which is connected with the famous businessman, Oleg Deripaska – could not be called sunny. Scandals and court sessions have been going on since 2013, since the moment when the Audit Chamber intervened and the construction budget had to be reduced to 34.9 bln roubles.
At the end of January, 2016, the Saint Petersburg Chamber of Control and Accounts found out that the scheme is quite different from the notion of “the city budget” regarding the stadium’s financing. As a result, the contract with Inzhtransstroy-Spb was frozen for half a year.
Now this term is coming to an end, the contractor wants money, and the conflict has worsened.
A whole set of events aimed at attracting attention to the stadium under construction has taken place over the past fortnight. First, on July 6th, a series of searches took place in the offices of the contractors, which was initiated by the general contractor. On Wednesday, July 13th, clips about the builders’ strike whose salary had been delayed for two months, appeared on the Internet. Later, Inzhtransstroy called the strike an attempt at asset-grabbing. In the morning of July 14th, the company’s directorate issued a statement in which they blamed the customer for the deliberate disruption of construction deadlines. In reply, the Saint Petersburg authorities administered a caution to Inzhtransstroy and tendered a notice to the general contractor about the rescinding of the contract.
What is the argument about?
What remains to be built? Is it sensible to change contractor a year before the event?
We did not manage to get any information about fulfilled work volumes and what is still to be done from the parties involved, as they are carried away with their “military operations”. The press office of the Saint Petersburg Construction Committee advised us to read the government website, and Nikita Pavlov, Inzhtransstroy’s press secretary, wrote back with mere press releases. People have no time to communicate: the information war does not allow them to do so.
The latest information we managed to find on the Internet dates back to the beginning of the year, when “Krestovsky” was 82% ready.
At that moment, the structures for the retractable roof were 73% manufactured, its assembly was 34% ready, and fire protection for the stadium’s bowl, water isolation and pavilion reconstruction were practically completed. Rail assembly on the movable field was 47% complete, fixed-site roof coverage was only 11% ready, but stained-glass window installation was 85% complete. The upper roof drop apron was being made, the facades were being covered with sandwich panels, the seats were being installed, and the territory was being improved. All the above-mentioned work concerns the finishing. However, for the last half-year the construction has moved forward by only 3%, and the general contractor has not received the money.
At the beginning of June, Saint Petersburg legislators added 4.3 bln roubles to the cost of the construction, but the money is unlikely to have reached the general contractor.
The story is reminiscent of how tempers flared over the Kerch Bridge construction a month ago. In both cases, the parties sorted things out publicly as they did not manage to reach agreement through negotiations.
At that time, we concluded that all the to-do was for the general contractor’s benefit, who drew attention to the problems of the statutory project. The same conclusions may be drawn from the Saint Petersburg conflict.
Inzhtransstroy may have played the scenario: contractors’ searches, a strike, statements to the press… the Saint Petersburg authorities only needed to react adequately, but the threat to rescind the contract looked like an attempt to stop a horse from bolting.
Nobody is going to change horses mid-stream. Somebody very important will issue an order – and in a week we will not remember the stadium’s problems, just as we do not remember about the Kerch Bridge’s.
Deeper into the woods…
Of course, it is not pleasant at all to hear that the construction of this or that object for the world championship is on a knife-edge.
We have written a lot about the hitches in construction and problems arising in Kaliningrad, Samara, and now Saint Petersburg.
Nevertheless, it is time to stop the arguments and finish the construction of the objects by all possible means.