Pressure On Dam Finally Threatens Breakthrough
Published: November 1, 2005 (Issue # 1118)
St. Petersburg’s dam was given a boost Thursday, with the announcement of a new manager together with a massive increase in spending. Thanks to pressure at both local and federal levels the project is now due for completion in 2008.
Begun in the Gulf of Finland in 1980 but neglected for more than 15 years due to a lack of funding, the dam will next year receive 2.4 billion rubles ($84.137 million) from the federal government, compared to the 467.6 million rubles ($16.4 million) it received this year.
The figures were disclosed by Boris Paikin, head of the Directorate of the flood protection barrier construction, at a news conference last week. “I have no doubts that the city will have the dam by 2008. Of course, what infrastructure there was has been destroyed, and we have to update the works according to new technologies,” he said.
Construction of a 25.4-kilometer complex was resumed in 2003 and would comprise 11 stone and earth dams with two ship passages in between. A highway would be laid on top of the dam. To complete the construction 15 billion rubles ($525.67 million) are needed Paikin said.
Thanks to President Vladimir Putin’s personal interference the project got a second wind this year. Apart from an increased budget the dam received a new manager, straight from the private sector.
On Nov. 1 Paikin is to leave the Directorate of the Flood Protection Barrier Construction, and will be replaced by Vladimir Kogan, giving up his posts as chairman of the Industrial and Construction Bank and president of St. Petersburg Banking House to run the challenging dam project.
According to Igor Gorsky, general director of Kommercheskaya Nedvizhimost Becar, there is no technical obstacle preventing the completion of the dam on time.
“The dam was not completed earlier because it was not being constructed. At the moment all necessary documentation is ready. The most difficult part — earth mound and concrete constructions — is finished. Only highway and ship passages are left to complete,” he said.
Gorsky said that if the financial schedule was met then the dam could be completed by 2008. However, he admitted, financing has so far been rather irregular, intermittently rising and falling.
“That is exactly what the new team headed by Vladimir Kogan is supposed to improve. Financial specialists are coming to run the project, people who know how to count money and how to give grounds to spending,” Gorsky said.
Demonstrating confidence in the project, Gefest insurance company insured the project until the last quarter of 2007 for 1.5 billion rubles ($52.57 million).
“The insurance covers construction of protective dams linked to sluices and anti-waves protective barriers. After completion of those works the north part of the dam will be finished,” Vladimir Karyukin, insurance department director of Gefest, said in a statement.