Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Airport Story

Comments from various German news sources indicate that the Berlin Airport....still under construction....may be under construction for a bit longer than anyone could possibly have imagined.  The contractors have reached a stage where they don't think the state-run corporation has the money to ever pay them off.  So naturally, they stopped.

The current stage?  It would be debated but it looks close to the eighty-to-ninety percent point.

The issues?  It's not entirely clear but you get the impression that various cost-overruns occurred on a regular basis.  The corporation that was supposed to maintain a strong presence over the project....probably didn't keep close track, and just allowed things to go wrong.

Around a dozen years ago in Germany....they started the KMC project at Ramstein.  It was an American-funded project to build a American-style mall at the base in Germany.  Between the mall and the was a $300-million dollar project.

At one point, someone sneaked into the project one night and spray painted almost every single wall and a number of windows....with florescent paint.  Teenage vandals were originally blamed but the ease of access and the massive amount of damage.....tended to make investigators look at the contractors involved.  A significant amount of cash was to be rework the damage done.

Toward the eighty-to-ninety percent point, the contractors walked off the job because the US had spent the allocated money, and even the extra bit of cash they had for the project.  At that point, the US asked for an investigation.  The German contractors and political folks from the Pfalz into a worried state of mind.  This meant opening the books and it might drag out a bit of something that no one wanted in a public arena.

So a deal was arranged where the German government paid the remainder of the cost to finish the project.  To this day, I have doubts that the German public ever got an accounting how much extra was tossed into this American construction avoid the investigation process.

So you look back over at the Berlin Airport situation.  My humble guess is that some folks will call for a team to investigate this mess, and the Berlin authorities will quickly assemble some budget folks and find the millions necessary to conclude the project.  The contractors will be told in a quiet fashion to wrap up delays and not to expect any other special favors in this project.

Two years from now....the Berlin Airport will open.  There will be a fancy ceremony....with the top 300 political figures of Berlin in attendance.  Everyone will be drinking fine champaign and talking about the wonderful new airport.  And no one will ever mention all this corrupted contractor business.  It's just the way that German corruption works.

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