Transylvanian motorways: ministry promises vs reality

Following the inspection of construction sites on the Szászsebes/Sebes–Torda/Turda motorway, the Romanian Minister of Transport Răzvan Cuc promised to open 180 km of highway this year alone. He somewhat repeated the same message after the visit to the A3’s construction sites, suggesting that everything is alright and the promises will be kept, so citizens and non-citizens of Romania will be driving happily on the newly constructed motorways. But the minister’s statements have nothing to do with reality, according to Ionut Ciurea, vice-president and executive director of the Pro Infrastructura Association, who has been following the progress of motorway construction for the past years. The Association was registered as a legal entity in 2015, but the online community is far older, founded in September 2011. They have been monitoring the major road infrastructure projects since 2012.

There is a huge gap between reality and the minister’s public statements, Mr. Ciurea highlights. For example, the minister talked about 180 km of motorways being open by the end of 2019, but in reality, contracts were signed for only 146 km. Since then, a new contract has been signed, and the total contracted motorway stands at 162 km, which means that if every constructor finishes its contracted section, we would still be short of the promised 180 km of motorway, Mr. Ciurea says.

A few weeks ago, Mr. Cuc visited two of the four segments of the third section of the A3 Transylvanian motorway. Although the works are a bit behind schedule, he was confident that the motorway connecting Marosvásárhely/Târgu Mureș and Aranyosgyéres/Câmpia Turzii will be ready by the end of the year. Again, the reality shows a different picture than that of Mr. Cuc’s vision: the construction is progressing well on the Radnót/Iernut—Maroskece/Chețani segment, where the level of development is at 61%, but the second section between Maroskece/Chețani and Aranyosgyéres,/Câmpia Turzii is only 22% complete.

A3 motorway
The A3 motorway connects Bors/Borș with Bucharest/București

“Mr. Cuc is grossly incompetent, as he demonstrated in his first mandate in 2017. He is lying shamelessly, and he’s not doing that for the first time. He has no clue about which world he is living in, from the perspective of the domain he leads as a minister,” Mr. Ciurea said. “If we consider that last year the constructor [Straco] was able to finish only 16% of the latter section [between Maroskece/Chețani and Aranyosgyéres/Câmpia Turzii], it is impossible to finish 80%,” he added. From his perspective the end of 2020 is a more likely deadline, and even this is very, very hard to achieve.

As for the other section, which stands at 61%, Mr. Ciurea sees two scenarios: the optimistic one would see the section open by the end of the year, but there are too many “ifs” including the mobilization of the constructor to finish the segment. The worst-case scenario would be completion by spring-summer 2020.

At the end of the year there will be only 43 km of motorway ready in the country, because there is visible progress on some sections of the Lugoj–Deva motorway. And even if Astaldi, the constructor contracted to build the section manages to finish the 17 km section between Radnót/Iernut and Maroskece/Chețani, the total of 60 km is only a third of the promised 180 km for 2019. By the way that doesn’t include the finishing touches, just the actual motorway itself, ready to use.

“Every year we see the same people making the same false promises. The problem is that no one will be held responsible for making false promises,” Mr. Ciurea concluded with a sour tone.

Title image: The A3 motorway near Túri hasadék/Cheile Turului

Author: István Fekete