Apologies but while my fellow Polandians wallow in post-Christmas-excess misery I can sneak in with something about my favourite subject, the laughable state of the Polish road network (oxymoron alert!).
According to this article, almost half the tenders for planned road construction are to be cancelled. As many as 20 of the 41 outstanding projects could end up being “frozen” leaving Poland with a patchwork of roads scattered around like leftover spaghetti.
The article is unfortunately not clear on two key points:
- Are the funds actually not available or does Poland just not want to spend them because of worries about having to add the debt of the National Road Fund to the calculation of public debt (in GDP terms)? Apparently, the debt of the road fund should be added to the calculations of national debt in accordance with Euro rules but if this happened Poland’s deficit would rise by 6% to around 60% of GDP meaning austerity measures with higher taxes and lower spending would be needed. Looks like Poland’s finance ministers have attended Gordon Brown’s lessons in creative accounting, especially the ones about building things you can’t afford. Surely there must be a way for the EU to provide special dispensation for Poland to allow it to finish what is after all a Europe-wide transport network and not just a Polish luxury.
- Which projects on this map are not going to happen? One assumes that those under construction (orange) will finish and that those “in preparation” (white) will certainly not but what about those “in contracting” (green). The article mentions that 371km of road may not get built. That’s not very much and might just equate to the length of the green lines on this map……..
Source – GDDKiA website.
I love the way the new road network pretty much ignores the capital city, Warsaw, and puts Łódż at the centre of the universe. If you look at the more detailed plan for Warsaw you’ll see lost of good ideas the vast majority of which are in the “being thought about” category, pathetic!
I also adore the way the roads in general are being built in a completely random way that does not actually result in many useful stretches of useful highway in any part of the country except perhaps if you want to go from Germany to Krakow. Łódż to Poznan is also complete but having travelled on that two-lane piece of crap I’m not going to get excited about it. The story is no doubt one of “social consultation”. I’m sorry but matters of national infrastructure require proper planning and part of that planning is the acquisition of the real estate needed to make it happen. Sure, we’d all love to have a road network where nobody gets hurt, people, animals, areas of natural beauty, but that’s just not realistic so do the best you can and then act forcefully to make it happen with appropriate compensation and so on. My grandfather lost his home and his butchers shop to a “compulsory purchase order” from the UK government to build something far less important than Poland’s highways so it can be done and everyone recovers from the upheaval eventually.
Most amusing is the fact that this latest article comes less a month after the one that said this:
Poland has already spent 20 billion zlotys (about 4.9 bn euro) on the construction of roads in preparation for the Euro 2012 football championships.
“Never before has so much construction has happened in Poland”, says Lech Witecki, head of the general directorate for road and motorway construction. “Poland is the biggest construction site in Europe. We have signed contracts on the construction of 1,700 km of roads, while 1,400 km of roads are already being built”, Witecki told Polish Radio.
Work is even continuing even in winter conditions, he said. Mr Witecki pointed out that Poland is striving to realize in three years a program which should have begun twenty years ago. He said that problems are sure to crop up but pledged to have no mercy on those who fail to meet the deadline.
Of course, there’s always the lingering smell of corruption that might be holding things back. Articles like this one back in August don’t really build confidence in Poland’s ability to manage such a large infrastructure project without squabbles about who gets the biggest brown envelope.
Media reports that copyrights to highway plans are usually handed over to GDDKiA after the contract is completed. The deal, whereby the copyright to the section of the A1 would not be handed over, was rubberstamped by head of the Katowice regional head of the directorate Krzysztof R. [name not revealed in accordance with Polish privacy law], who is under suspicion of taking 900,000 zloty (225,000 euro) in bribes.
When Aleksander Grad became Treasury Minister, his wife was placed as deputy chairman in MGGP SA as well as MGGP Aero. Earlier, the company was run almost exclusively by the Grad family, and known by competitors on the construction market as the “Gradowka.”
Still, the good news is that if you do manage to find a stretch of highway you can now drive really fast on it!! Try not to kill yourself though.
“Poles to speed up for New Year’s Eve,” headlines Gazeta Wyborcza, referring to the new regulation which increases speed limit on motorways by 10 km/h.
The regulation, which was passed by the Senate and signed by president Bronislaw Komorowski, will come into force on the last day of 2010. According to the new law of the road, drivers will be able to drive at 140 km/h on motorways and at 120 km/h at dual carriageways. The new speed limit will be the highest in the EU, where it ranges between 130 and 120 km/h. The new regulation is highly controversial, writes the daily. Not only has Poland the lowest amount of motorways in Europe, but also the highest road accidents rate.
On the GDDKiA website there’s a video section called GDDKiA TV that promises to provide “The whole truth about roads” – ROTFLMAO!!!!