ArmInfo. Chief Executive Officer of the "North-South Road Corridor Investment Program" SNCO Artur Sargsyan assured that there have been no abuses and misappropriations in construction activities of North-South transport corridor.
Arthur Sargsyan told journalists good news that quite recently, on September 14, an official letter was received from the EU Commission, according to which the North-South highway is considered a key road of European Union TNT express. Sargsyan clarified that this means that the EU is interested in the road opening by 2030, which in turn means increase of the North-South project's investment ranking. Thus, all the expenses made till today are justified and perspective, according to the CEO. Touching upon the statement made by the new Minister of Transport, Communications and IT on assessing the efficiently of the program, Sargsyan stated that it is untimely to apply to the Minister with such questions after a month from his appointment. "He needs time to realize the situation", the expert noted.
According to Sargsyan, all the activities are being held according to schedule. As for the information disseminated by mass media that a criminal case has been initiated against contractor company, Sargsyan stated that he does not know anything about a criminal case. "If you mean the statement of tax bodies, it is still being discussed, as Corsan Corviam Construccion does not admit accusations and has filed reciprocal claim", he stated noting that the problem is in disregarding deadlines of paying taxes, which is relevant for any LLC in Armenia. At the same time Sargsyan stressed that this process no way affected the construction activities.
On October 20 the Minister of Transport, Communication and Information Technologies Vahan Martirosyan told journalists that the ministry is assessing the efficiency of construction of the North-South highway in the territory of Armenia. The Minister noted that at the current stage the efficiency of both the highway construction and the North- South project in general is being assessed. He did not rule out possible replacement of the developer company and revision of the construction period. "There will be no abuse during my term in the minister's office, believe me," he said. Martirosyan pointed out that there is no final conclusion about the future of the project yet. "I think it is unreasonable to change anything without conducting the relevant surveys. We are assessing the efficiency of the project to understand how to continue the implementation of the project or whether to continue it at all," he said.
To recall, in July 2016, when commenting on the "delay of construction of the Ashtarak-Talin section of the North- South project," the then Prime Minister of Armenia Hovik Abrahamyan said that the Spanish construction company had become a real evil for the North-South road corridor. He also stressed that there were problems also with the Ararat section of the road, whose quality did not meet the standards. "There are certain problems with this company, according to the rumors, the funds were misappropriated, please check into the matter", Abrahamyan instructed. Meanwhile, information was spread in mass media that because of Armenian "traditional corruption" the Spanish company does not manage to conduct construction activities and has decided to leave Armenia. According to the rumors criminal case was initiated against the Spanish company, the Finance Ministry of Armenia confirmed the information. Preliminary investigation is underway.
To note, the North-South 556km highway will be laid via the Armenian towns of Meghri-Kapan-Goris- Yerevan- Ashtarak- Gyumri-Bavra and enter the territory of Georgia on Akhaltsikhe-Batumi section, which will settle some transport problems of Armenia. This will be a four-lane motorway of reinforced concrete extending from the Armenian border and Iran to the Georgian port Batumi. The road corridor will facilitate improving the road connection with the two neighbors of Armenia: Iran and Georgia, providing access to international trade routes and markets. Armenia raised $500mln loan from the Asian Development Bank for the project that is estimated at $1 billion. Eurasian Development Bank is ready to provide $150 million. Armenia raised $60 million from the European investment Bank. Due to the project, the overland communication Europe-Caucasus-Asia will be improved. The project will be completed by 2019. It will allow Armenia to soften the consequences of the blockade by Azerbaijan and Turkey and to join the Black Sea ring highway. Corsan Corvian Spanish company has won the tenders for construction of the first sections of the road, Chinese Sinohydro Corporation has won the tender for construction of the Lanjik- Gyumri section in north of Armenia.