A Chinese and a Turkish firm disqualified from major tunnel project

Bosnia-Herzegovina’s state highway company, Autoceste, has disqualified two companies from participating in a significant infrastructure project, after they were found to have submitted false documents in their bids, according to a report in the Sarajevo Times.

An impression of the proposed 11km Prenj tunnel in southern Bosnia-Herzegovina An impression of the proposed 11km Prenj tunnel in southern Bosnia-Herzegovina. Image: Autoceste FBiH

The contractors were two of eight companies that tendered for the contract to build the 11km Prenj tunnel, a crucial component of a new highway being built across the Balkan country.

Autoceste, responsible for vetting contracts for the project, said the Chinese company Gezhouba Group had submitted doctored and inaccurate documents in its bid.

According to Public Enterprise Motorways of the Federation of BiH (FBiH), the company from Turkey, Ozaltin Insaat Ticaret ve Sanayi, also submitted incorrect data in its bid.

While specific details about the disqualifications were not disclosed, the US government-funded media organisation Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported that it had seen a document from Autoceste stating that the Chinese company failed to provide valid documentation and that its bid was deemed fraudulent upon examination by the highway company.

Blanket bans anticipated

The news outlet reportedly attempted to contact Gezhouba Group for comment, but the company has not as yet responded.

It is understood that the Chinese firm will now be blacklisted from bidding for future projects, with the same sanction likely for the disqualified Turkish bidder.

The tender process for the project has been open since September 2022, and bids have been received from another Chinese company, an Indian company, three Turkish companies (excluding the disqualified one), and two joint bids from Turkish and South Korean consortiums.

Autoceste has shortlisted three companies for the contract, although the specific bids selected have not been disclosed.

The tunnel’s construction is being supported by a loan from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

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