Archive for April 1st, 2010

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In the interests of fair play – UK Embassy reply to my LOCATE Post

April 1, 2010

Well dear readers, in the interests of fair play and to help promote the LOCATE system amongst you, here is a reply from HM Embassy Ukraine in response to my post a few days ago about the above mentioned system.  It has come as a comment to the blog post, but I feel it worthy of full publication as I know many of you readers are too damed lazy to read the comments. 

Without further ado, over to HM Embassy, Ukraine:

Many thanks to Odessablogger for publicising HM Ambassador’s blog and the British Embassy’s campaign to get more Brits registered on LOCATE. Forgive me for this further advertisement but I’d like to pick up on some comments.
First of all, there is nothing sinister in the LOCATE registration process. It requires even less information than the standard passport application form. So if you’ve applied for a British passport from us, you’ve already given more information to HMG than LOCATE demands.
We’re keen to hear from both long-term residents and short-term visitors. When you register, you can do so for up to twelve months. So if you’re just here for a football match or a long weekend, you can say so and you will disappear from the system when you leave the country. If you’re here for more than a year, you need to renew your registration annually to keep the data fresh.
Why do we want to know where you are? So we can contact you in case of emergency; inform you of any changes to the security situation in Ukraine or elsewhere; or liaise with you if your family/friends cannot make direct contact with you (whilst ensuring compliance with the UK Data Protection Act).
According to our LOCATE register, there are three British nationals in Odesa. We know there are more than that. So please let us know who and where you are. We can’t promise a Consulate on Primorsky Boulevard, but we can at least make contact with you and try to meet up either in Kyiv or Odesa.
So, contributors are quite right to query the 500 figure – it is a guesstimate. But that really proves our point: we can’t have an accurate picture of how many British nationals are in Ukraine or make contact with them unless they tell us they’re here. And the easiest way to do that is through signing up to LOCATE…..
Judith Gardiner, HM Consul
“Your Woman in Kyiv”

 

What can one say other than to thank Judith Gardiner for her response.  Better not tell my good woman I now have a woman in Kyiv though!

 

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And over in Lviv……..

April 1, 2010

Associated Press –  The main contractor working on construction of the Lviv stadium for the 2012 European Championship is to be removed after criticism of delays at the site by UEFA president Michel Platini.

Ukraine Deputy Prime Minister Borys Kolesnikov said on Tuesday the contractor will be discharged due to slow work.

Platini said on Monday that construction in Lviv “has made no progress whatsoever.”

Kolesnikov said in televised comments that an international consortium of Ukrainian, Turkish, Croatian and Macedonian companies will build the stadium instead.

Meanwhile, a construction company in Kiev said renovation work on the Olympic stadium, which is three months behind schedule, will catch up on its timetable by June.

Now, ignoring this article having written Lviv (Ukrainian…..not Lvov Russian) but Kiev (Russian…..not Kyiv Ukrainian)……what to say here?

I will automatically accept the construction company in Kyiv being behind (and being able to catch up) because if there is still concrete works continuing at the Olympic Stadium, temperatures over this winter will have prevented any concrete pour taking place.  One of the main ingredients in concerete is of course water, and concrete poured in temperatures of minus 20 something degrees simply should not happen……similarly pouring it in plus 40 degree heats is not good either as it dries out too quickly.

It is also fair to say that Lviv can stake the same claim, but I have no idea at what stage the construction is at in Lviv.  Are they still pouring concrete?  If so there is a reasonable excuse.  Lviv is not revamping an existing stadium as in Kyiv, it is building a completely new one.

Somehow though, I do not think the Lviv issue is simply down to concrete.  It has bee beset with “issues” from the start.  Contracts with Lviv Administration and the foreign architects have been subject  to question and interpretation from both sides…..with different interpretations of course.

Conruction tenders were won……..and then overturned by the then Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko…….and the subsequent winners turned out to be “amongst her friends and allies” with a questionable history regarding building stadiums.

Is this political pay back from Yanukovych by removal of Tymoshenko’s associates construction company? 

In this case, although easy to say yes, I don’t think it is.  His is now President and Lviv is probably the most hostile part of Ukraine as far as he is concerned.  It is in his interests that Lviv retains its host status……and of course it is not he who has stated Lviv has achieved sweet FA…….it is Plantini.  Failure of Lviv to host the tournament will not be seen as a failure of Lviv by the planet, but a failure of Ukraine under his watch.  That is certainly not good for either image or ego.

So the questions have to be asked as to why Lviv has achieved no progress at all.  The weather is one reason, but certainly not enough.  Of all the host cities of this tournament, given the political leanings of the then President and then Prime Minister and their core voter bases, Kyiv and Lviv will have had preferential treatment when it came to political goodwill and by inference……financing.

So where is the money given to the contractor when no progress has been made?  If the contractor has not recieved the money, where is it?  Has there ever been any money……there is still no budget for the nation for another month, even though the past administration legally was supposed to submit it no later than December 2009.

I have nothing against the above mentioned international consortium outlined above, however, I was involved in the Manchester United North Stand development many years ago and also the new Wembly Stadium under the main foreign contractor Multiplex.

The issue now, regardless of progress that will be made with a multinational consortium, will be cost control for things paid for and not done, poor and shoody work inherited, sub contractors for civils, mechanical and electrical works etc etc, who may have exceptionally strong contracts with the now “potted” Ukrainian contractor.

Then there is finding new sub contractors if the old ones are waiting for money and will not carry on until contractual staged payments are met, not carry on because they are inept and are also “potted” or under previous agreements are making “unreasonable” profits……which would now be “reasonable” given the timescale to complete the job.

The usual mess will ensue unless there is a very clear head with a very strong personality and considerable experience on site all day every day to grab this project by the balls!

As I have written before, Lviv Administration is not the easiest to deal with either……a friend who’s company did work directly for the Lviv Administration and with that Administration is still owed a considerable amount of money from over 1 year ago.   He will no doubt eventually get paid, but he is not owed the multiple millions which any contractor taking control of this project will be owed if Lviv Administration are allowed to run the purse for the project or have any say in the allocation of sub-contractors.

Given the precedent in Donetsk of a quite wonderful stadium being built by the private funds of Akhmetov only a few years ago, the Lviv Administration and the now “potted” Ukrainian contractor will have a lot of explaining to do if the audit trail does not match the progess on the ground by way of payments.  Donetsk proves it can be done on time and to budget.

Quite simply lack of management within the Tymoshenko government, Lviv Administration and the then appointed contractor is beyond belief as far as this specific project is concerned…….or is it simply another political stunt to provide Yanukovych with another problem.

  I detect the faint smell scortched earth in the air…….and the turf is nowhere close to being layed yet!

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