Inflation leaves more than 50 works deserted in Tarragona
Improvements in retiree homes, remodeling of parks, new furniture for nurseries, water supply branches, extensions of sports centers, street paving, urban projects and even railway maintenance. Even works of more than one million euros have suffered stoppages in the province as they have been resolved as deserted in recent months. More than 50 projects of various sizes have become vacant, in most cases due to rising material costs but also due to the global supply crisis.
Some of them have had to be put out to tender again, with revised prices. This is what has happened, for example, in Montblanc (Conca de Barberà), with the new Bolovi bridge over the Francolí, destroyed in 2019 by the flood. “We were going to do it with help from the Generalitat and also from the Diputació. The budget was initially 500,000 euros, but it was deserted. The bridge was all made of cement and iron and the materials had become very expensive. It was necessary to add 210,000 more euros”, explains the mayor of Montblanc, Josep Andreu. "Then there was no interested company but now there is and we are going to move forward," says the highest municipal representative.
"The bridge over Francolí has become more expensive by 210,000 euros and we have put it out to tender again," says Josep Andreu, mayor of Montblanc
This situation has been common in practically all municipalities. A study by the Chamber of Contractistes d'Obres de Catalunya puts more than 50 deserted projects between 2021 and 2022, although the real figure may be even higher and also affects Next Generation fund initiatives. In 2020 there were 19 projects that did not find someone to take care of them. In 2021 the figure rose to 24, but the comparison with this year is even more striking. From January to August 2022, there have been 28 projects run aground in Camp de Tarragona and Terres de l'Ebre, twice as many as in the same period last year (16), according to the counts of the Catalan chamber.
In some cases, the impact on citizens is direct, as in L'Espluga de Francolí, also in Conca. The severe problems of drought and restrictions that the municipality suffers would have been solved if it had been possible to carry out a large pending work. «The branch of the Consorci d'Aigües de Tarragona was deserted. If everything had gone well, the work would have already been finished and we would not have these water restrictions," explains the mayor, Josep Maria Vidal. It is a connection to bring water from the Ebre river to the municipality and supply it on exceptional occasions, such as this year's drought, when the aquifers have not given more of themselves due to the lack of rain. "We had spent more than four years making arrangements for this highly complex project," says the mayor.
Reformulate the project
Inflation has ruined this action, and with the accounts, roughly: half a million from the Agència Catalana de l'Aigua and the same from the Diputació that would have been worth to cover a work of around one million euros. «The work was deserted in January. There have been two price revisions that have made the project more expensive by 70%, "admits Vidal.
"The water cuts would have been solved with the branch line, but the project was abandoned," admits Josep Maria Vidal, mayor of L'Espluga de Francolí
So that infrastructure, vital to avoid the current 12-hour water restrictions, is now being rethought. “We have to write a new project and try again, although it is much more expensive. They are 1.7 million and we have to seek additional financing for that increase in price, ”explains the maximum musical representative. The idea is to be able to bid in 2023 and restart a process whose works will last around nine months.
The public sector, victim
The entire public administration is being affected by this situation, especially local corporations. There are dozens of municipalities in Tarragona that have not been able to carry out their projects, at least initially, but Consells Comarcals, the Diputació, the Institut Català de la Salut, research institutes, the Generalitat or the Central Government, as well as various municipal companies.
The Chamber states in its latest report that since the beginning of the war in Ukraine «materials such as iron, nickel, aluminum and wood have experienced sharp increases in prices and energy costs have skyrocketed to unaffordable levels for some companies". All this uncertainty, according to the Chamber, means that "many tenders are deserted due to the high instability in prices and the lack of mechanisms" to adapt them to an inflation that in Tarragona has climbed beyond 11% during this year. In Catalonia, some 370 works have been abandoned because there is no one to do them, for a total amount of more than 95 million. In Tarragona, the number affected exceeds 10 million.
The price of some projects has increased by 70% in recent months
The Chamber proposes to update the tenders in accordance with market prices, among other measures. "We must streamline the bidding processes with price updates and the application of the extraordinary review of rates to prevent the situation in the sector from worsening," says Lluís Moreno, president of the Chamber of Contractistes.
The situation is especially delicate because the Next Generations are also at stake. A part of the shared bike project in Reus, which has suffered delays due to the lack of supplies, is financed with these European funds. The same is also happening in Tarragona with the urbanization works in the central López Peláez and Josepa Massanes streets. The procedure was declared void this July because no company submitted offers.