Procurement protests threaten open-air stage rebuild

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Two construction companies have protested the tender regulation of the Mezaparks Open-air stage, slated to be rebuilt by June 7, 2018, in time for the next Song and Dance festival, reported Latvian Radio on February 14.

The Balt Trest company claimed, in a protest letter obtained by Latvian Radio, that it is not satisfied with the tender's regulations, specifically concerning the required workers' experience, the number of brigade leaders, as well as the requirement for the company to have experience as a general contractor in a project worth at least €19m for an object at least 15,000 square meters large.

The second company to file a complaint was Lemminkainen Latvija, a daughter company of Finnish Lemminkäinen Infra Oy, and it did not comment its decision.

Due to the complaints, the Riga City Council real estate department will not be able to review the offers before solving the tender regulation issue, said Dace Gaile of the Procurement Monitoring Bureau.

She said however that, considering the project's importance, the bureau will make the project its top priority.

"Any prolonging of the term, any announcement of a new tender can threaten the completion [of the construction]. Then we should review whether construction should even be started at all. The Song Festival cannot take place on an unfinished viewers' platform," said Riga City Council real estate department director Oļegs Burovs.

However complaints may arise even after the results are announced.

Previously Culture Minister Dace Melbārde told Latvian Radio's Krustpunktā that she's worried whether the open-air stage will be finished in time. Judging from her words, it seems the state currently has no plan B for the project.

"If we feel that the threat [of the project failing] is real, we'll start working at it without a doubt. However it's very difficult to imagine where else we could carry out the Song Festival's end concert," said Melbārde.

"Accordingly, we have to work together to ensure that the first part of the rebuild of the Mežaparks open-air stage is finished by summer 2018. Truth be told, I'm also hoping on some decency on the part of the construction companies. There are, after all, some national values on which you should pull yourself together and put a stop to your egotism," she said.

The first part of the rebuild, estimated to cost €23m, aims to increase the stage's spectator capacity to 30,000.

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