Costs of modernization projects increase but the share of water transport in the freight transport remains negligible

PRESS RELEASE on Audit No. 14/03 – November 3, 2014

The Supreme Audit Office (SAO) focused on the effectiveness and efficiency of the EU and national resources spent on support of the development and modernization of waterways and ports and support of multi-modal freight transport since 2009. The SAO scrutinized the Ministry of Transport, the State Transport Infrastructure Fund and the Directorate of Waterways especially, which managed the preparation and construction of three most financially significant projects on the Labe and Vltava (Elbe and Moldau) rivers aimed at a reconstruction of the railway bridge in Kolín, finishing the waterway from České Budějovice to Týn nad Vltavou, and a modernization of the port in Ústí nad Labem – Vaňov.

Although one of the main objectives of the Priority Axis 6 of the Operational Programme "Transport", from which the modernization of waterways was mainly funded, was to increase the share of water transport in the freight transport, the share remains still negligible. It reached a maximum of 0.43 % of the volume of goods transported in the last five years. Number of docks connected to waterways has not been changed.

The Ministry of Transport admits that further investments in the modernization of the Labe waterway for freight transport are meaningless unless the project “Děčín Navigation Step” is completed, which should solve the problematic part of the waterway on the lower part of Labe. This project has repeatedly faced serious problems, namely in case of the Environmental Impact Assessment and its construction has been postponed several times and at present, the planned term is as late as years 2018–2021. In spite of the facts, the Ministry approved several construction projects in the middle reaches of Vltava.

One of those projects aims at a reconstruction of the railway bridge in Kolín, during which the underpass limit of the bridge was increased. With this project, the investment costs rose by more than a half – from the original budget in the amount of CZK 800 million to CZK 1,200 million. Auditors criticized that many follow-up investments were needed, which were not related with water transport at all. To gain support from the Priority Axis 6 of the Operational Programme Transport, the project was originally determined to “advance water transport” but in reality, the project aimed at modernization and reconstruction of the railway infrastructure. For example, subsidies were used for a complete reconstruction of two platforms at the railroad station in Kolín – including new roofs, lights, an informational system and a cargo lift. When ordering construction works, the Directorate of Waterways sometimes violated the Act on Public Contracts.

The Ministry of Transport also approved several other projects, which contained essential errors. With these projects, additional costs were approved when needed without proper analyses of reasons of the cost increases. For example, with the waterway from České Budějovice to Hluboká nad Vltavou the Ministry approved three times higher expenses than declared in the original investment plan without any comments. The final costs were CZK 880 million. There were similar issues in case of two other projects.

Communication Department
Supreme Audit Office

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