Czech Transport Minister Vít Bárta on Thursday held exploratory talks
with the Chinese ambassador about the possibility of Chinese companies
building roads and other infrastructure in the country. He said after the
meeting that he wanted to develop a pilot project which could serve as a
model testing how this could work in practice.
The minister is seeking to shake up local companies and push down the price of construction contracts. Inspiration has come from neighbouring Poland where the Chinese have been hired at prices 40 percent below the local competition to build a section of motorway.
Local construction companies have complained that Chinese firms are subsidised by the state and that they cannot meet the same quality and safety standards. The Minister of Industry Martin Kocourek has cautioned against inviting Chinese companies into the country highlighting the impact on local companies which are struggling to recover from the recession.
The Supreme Administrative Court on Tuesday ruled that ticket inspectors have the right to detain passengers who are caught travelling without a valid ticket. The case came to court after a passenger got into a fight with a ticket inspector who tried to detain him until the arrival of police. The ruling has set a precedent in favour of inspectors, since many similar incidents occur daily with passengers who refuse to produce an ID or pay a fine.
The Czech Republic wants to save money on road construction, and China is looking to break through to European construction markets. It seems an ideal match to Transport Minister Vít Bárta, whose ministry is the one hardest hit by budget cuts amid numerous ongoing projects. But Czech construction companies are, needless to say, not enthusiastic. Christian Falvey has more.
Transport Minister Vít Bárta says competing companies should be using Czech rail lines by July of 2013, which is earlier than had been expected. Mr Bárta told TV Prima on Sunday that he expects competition even sooner, but expects unforeseeable complications. The transport ministry took the first steps towards introducing competition in October when it asked for the publication of the plan in the European Union’s official bulletin. Certain tracks will be competed for next year. Czech Railways currently has a monopoly on train operation in the Czech Republic.
The news website iDnes.cz reports that the Czech Republic may have to return nearly half a billion crowns received from the EU for modernising the road between Brno and Vienna. The European Union co-financed the planned R52 motorway as one of fifteen important trans-European thoroughfares intended to run outside of cities and thus requiring new construction. However, work thus far has involved repairing a nine-kilometre slip road where the R52 is meant to run. The European Commission is now investigating whether the work has entailed new construction or repair.
Two members of a polish racing team were involved in a serious accident in the Střela Rally in Zdeslav near Rakovnik on Saturday. The 23-year-old driver is in serious condition after losing control of his race car and running into an electrical pylon in a turn. A 26-year-old woman also in the car is being treated for light injuries.
The Czech anti-monopoly authority issued on Wednesday a fine of six million crowns for one of the country’s biggest transport firms, Student Agency, over low fares the company charged on its Prague-Brno route. The competition watchdog fined Student Agency for its policy in 2008 when the firm got involved in a price war with another company on the Prague-Brno route. Representatives of the Brno-based transport firm said they were going to appeal the verdict.
Czech rail unions called on Thursday for an immediate meeting with Prime Minister Petr Nečas and Transport Minister Vít Bárta after the minister announced plans to transfer up to 10,000 workers, including dispatchers and signallers, from Czech Railways to the state-controlled company responsible for rail track and infrastructure. Rail union representatives said proper consultations had not been held about the move and warned that they could take dramatic steps if they gained no satisfaction from talks. No strike warning has yet been declared. The ministry has justified the transfer as part of the ongoing transformation of the rail network.
Two unfortunate cops get a lesson in law from a man on a scooter; richest Czech businessman buys a new jet to fly in style; an historic plane which Jan Antonín Baťa flew around the world will return to the Czech Republic; and US actor Tom Cruise strips to the waist during the filming of Mission Impossible 4 in Prague.
Between January and September this year, 543 people were killed on Czech roads, which is the lowest number since the fall of communism, the police headquarters said on Friday. Compared to the same period last year, 59 fewer people died in road crashes. However, the number of traffic accidents rose to just over 55,000 in the first nine months of this year. Drivers under the influence caused over 3,700 accidents, in which 66 people died. So far, the worst month this year was July with 104 victims. The head of the Czech traffic police, Leoš Tržil, however warned of excessive optimism, saying the statistics could significantly worsen before the year’s end.
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