The board decision wasn't unanimous, as those in opposition discussed the costs (8 million euros more than expected) and whether the project was necessary. The board consists of four ministry representatives and four Riga City Council representatives, which at the time included the current Mayor Oļegs Burovs (Honor to Serve Riga), and the now ex-Deputy Mayor Vadims Baraņniks.
“On the one hand the bridge is necessary, especially in this situation, to strengthen the port capacity. On the other – I wasn't completely convinced that this issue won't raise additional questions afterwards,” said Baraņniks after abstaining from the vote.
Baraņniks, who was previously kicked out of the Harmony party, was voted out of his position both as deputy mayor and as Riga Freeport board member by a unanimous vote in the Riga City Council on November 19.
Supporters of signing the contract had various arguments, including that delaying the project could mean losing EU Cohesion Fund co-financing (23 million euros) if the project isn't completed by 2023. The financing could, however, also be lost if any of the procurement winners prove to be associated with the cartel.
“So what do we want? For a small ''Lilies of the Valley Ltd.'' to construct such serious projects? We have the type of construction workers we have. I want to unequivocally say that construction cartel collaboration is bad. But at the same time we can't get rid of the construction sector,” says Mayor Burovs.
The Freeport turned to the Competition Council and the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB) asking whether they have information on any of the supplier union members that would pose an obstacle to signing the contract. Both institutions told the port that they can't comment on the situation at this time.