Road building slow with no acceleration likely, say Supreme Audit Office

Photo: Free Domain

Little headway has been made on road building in the Czech Republic in recent years and the situation is unlikely to improve soon, according to the Supreme Audit Office. However, ANO are promising to speed up the process.

Photo: Free Domain
The Supreme Audit Office has just released the results of controls that its officials carried out between 2013 and last year.

During that period the Czech Republic experienced the end of the government of Petr Nečas, an interim government headed by Jiří Rusnok and, from January 2014, a coalition helmed by Bohuslav Sobotka in which the Ministry of Transport was under the ANO party.

Over the four years in question an average of only 16 kilometres of new roads were put into operation annually, the Supreme Audit Office found.

Václav Kešner is the spokesperson for the state institution.

“The main reason was problems associated with the preparation of construction work. This was mainly to do with planning decisions and planning permits. Our audit discovered that the planning of road construction projects alone took 13 years on average. Participants took action against projects and launched appeals in individual procedures. Time was also devoted to dealing with exceptions as regards nature protection. And, last but not least, property settlements took a long time to resolve.”

Mr. Kešner points out that the national road network was originally due to be completed in the year 2010. The Ministry of Transport has put the date back several times and the deadline is now 2050.

However, even that is an unrealistic target unless the current tempo of road building revs up; according to the National Audit Office, 25 kilometres of new roadway would need to open each year if the 2050 target were to be met.

In their programme statement, the current ANO government in resignation have promised to open 110 kilometres of new roads within four years, meaning 27.5 kilometres a year.

Dan Ťok,  photo: Filip Jandourek
But the Supreme Audit Office suggests that 17 kilometres a year is more realistic.

The ANO minister of transport, Dan Ťok, blames the situation on a general downturn in construction projects under the Nečas cabinet.

For this reason the last four years were mainly spent setting new projects in motion, says Mr. Ťok, who first took over the department in late 2014 as a member of the Sobotka government.

The Ministry of Transport aims to accelerate road building with a construction bill now before lower house committees.

It would introduce “provisional tenure”, under which work could begin even before land had been acquired by the state.