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Work on major infrastructural projects slows down

Ljubljana, 24 March - The coronavirus epidemic and the ensuing restrictive measures have slowed down work on major infrastructural projects in Slovenia. Work on the second tube of the Karavanke motorway tunnel is down to a minimum and the intensity of work on the new railway serving the port of Koper has been reduced.

The Karavanke border tunnel.
Photo: Tamino Petelinsek/STA

The national motorway company DARS said on Tuesday that the work on the tunnel had been adjusted to the situation. Major works have been suspended because of disruptions in the supply of material and difficulties in securing proper accommodation for workers.

The Turkish contractor Cengiz has informed DARS that work has been hampered, and reduced to a minimum.

"When the situation stabilises, an analysis will be made of the impact on the final deadline," DARS said, noting that work on the Austrian side of the tunnel had been suspended last week.

The motorway operator meanwhile continues with the most necessary maintenance works on the motorway network.

The work also continues on the new railway line between the port of Koper and the Divača hub, currently the largest infrastructural project in the country, albeit at a lower intensity.

2TDK, the state-owned company managing the project, said that the contractors were sticking to the instructions and preventive measures. Archaeologists exploring the sites on the access roads have meanwhile suspended their work.

The company said that the contractors were facing labour shortages as many foreign workers had not been able to return to Slovenia in time as borders were being shut down to contain the pandemic.

While the government decree limiting commercial activity does not affect work on construction sites, 2TDK said that a possible decision to suspend work altogether would depend on the objective circumstances and further government measures.

It added that a short suspension of work on access roads, if necessary, would not result in the loss of EU funds, as the planned works would be finalised by the end of the year.

"The impact and magnitude of the coronavirus pandemic cannot be predicted at the moment," 2TDK said, adding that consequences for the broader society brought by the slow-down of the project could not be avoided, however.

The national railway operator Slovenske Železnice meanwhile said that, while passenger transport was on hold, other services were being provided without disruptions.

Work on the railway infrastructure is conducted as planned as workers have been properly protected and received instructions, said Slovenske Železnice, which made holiday homes in its ownership available for the staff most exposed to the epidemic.

"The holiday capacities will be available to persons who are not able to return to their home environment due to the disease and for temporary accommodation of workers who support the functioning of the state."

© STA, 2020