Bucharest”s bid to construct a new metro line has taken so long it’s seen 16 Romanian transport ministers come and go.
The 7km line, which cost €660 million, opened this week five years later than planned.
Work on M5, which connects the busy neighbourhood of Drumul Taberei to the rest of the city, began in 2011.
But the project, which politicians had said would be finished in three years, has been beset by problems. Early on its budget was halved, bringing construction to a standstill. Public tenders to build the stations were late. Then, in 2015, as a tunnel was being dug, the ground above the construction site collapsed.
“This is not ok,” Nicolae Noica, a construction engineer and former minister of public works told Euronews. “More than 100 years ago, King Charles I built 4,000 kilometres of railroad in 40 years and we boast that we did 7 kilometres of a subway line in more than 9 years.”
“There is a lack of competence,” he added. “Now, we are not capable of carrying out sound public construction projects. It’s as if things move backwards here in Romania. Despite modern technology allowing us to work faster, projects take far longer to complete than half a century or even a century ago.”
After the ground collapsing incident, new deadlines were set and then broken. First, it was early 2017, then the end of the year, then the summer of 2018, next the beginning of 2019 and finally the end of 2019.
Then, on Wednesday (September 16), it was finally opened.
“We are now in a situation where I can say with certainty that soon the people of Bucharest can use the most awaited means of transport in this area,” said Romania’s minister of transport, Lucian Bode.
“It was a titanic work from the first day of my term as minister, in order to be able to offer to the people of Bucharest, from the Drumul Taberei area, but just them, what they had been waiting for for so many years.”
“This line risked becoming a kind of legend, a legend of postponements, but here came a determined government, which wanted to prove that such things can be successfully completed,” said Romania’s president, Klaus Iohannis.
Metrorex, the state-run company in charge of managing and operating the metro network, had not responded to requests for comment by the time of publication.