Poland’s government yesterday sacked the head of its roads authority, which is being sued by Irish and European construction groups over losses sustained on motorway-building projects.
The country's transport minister, Elzbieta Bienkowska, announced that her administration has dismissed Lech Witecki, head of the national roads authority, which is known as GDDKiA.
The agency is facing lawsuits from Irish players Siac, Sisk and Roadbridge, along with Austria's Strabag and Alpine Bau, Germany's Bilfinger, and Spain's Ferrovial.
The court cases revolve around disputes that broke out between the agency and the companies over motorway projects part-funded by €37 billion from the EU.
Siac's problems were a factor in the financial woes that in October forced it to seek High Court protection from its creditors and the appointment of an examiner.
The group is due to emerge from examinership on Monday following a final court hearing today.
A number of the construction groups blamed Mr Witecki’s lack of flexibility for the problems that led the lawsuits. These included his agency’s refusal to extend deadlines or increase budgets when there were legitimate reasons for doing so.
They say that his position – that GDDKiA could only grant such extensions if the courts ordered it to do so – was contrary to EU law as this made no allowance for resolving disputes.
Ms Bienkowska said: “Unfortunately we were unable to avoid mistakes. The most severe were many delays in the schedules of work and the bad atmosphere of co-operation with contractors and the entire construction sector.” – (Additional reporting: Reuters)