Dienas Bizness: What is the difference between the construction enterprise's operation in Latvia and outside of it?

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE CONSTRUCTION ENTERPRISE’S OPERATION IN LATVIA AND OUTSIDE OF IT?

The answer is provided in Dienas Bizness newspaper’s interview of Member of the Board, Chief Engineer and Project Manager of the LNK Group holding company’s enterprise LATVIJAS TILTI Andrey Bockaryov, who this month has received the Grand Award in Construction Industry as the Engineer of the Year for management of construction works in Lithuania and Estonia.

An excerpt from the interview:

What is the difference between the construction enterprise’s operation in Latvia and outside of it?

I have 33 years of experience in construction and construction management of buildings, bridges and roads not only in Latvia, but also in Lithuania, Estonia and Russia. Currently we are trying to work in Scandinavia as well.

In Lithuania, we have constructed numerous significant objects – an overpass in Vilnius, Panemune–Sovetsk bypass with a bridge at the border of Kaliningrad, and a two-level overpass near the Port of Klaipeda, construction works of which were recently finished. We have implemented two projects in Estonia as well. Here in Latvia, we are currently constructing a drainage system at the Riga HPP, reconstructing a bridge across the Lielupe River at the Ventspils motorway. Moreover, we recently began the second construction stage at the Riga Fertilizer Terminal in Kundzinsala.

We can endlessly discuss the differences in industry regulations of different countries. When it comes to Russia, we should remember the time when Latvia gained its independence. New structures were emerging, none of the Baltic States had any jobs to offer, and that is why we had an opportunity to work in Russia. However, I was not able to comprehend Russian mentality. The way things were approached was absolutely absurd, even though I am Russian myself. Neither price policy, nor agreements, nor work planning were acceptable for me.  I have previously mentioned construction of the bridge across the Neman River near Kaliningrad, which was implemented last year. We were constructing the bridge on the Lithuanian side, but the other side was constructed by Russian representatives themselves. Even though agreements were reached on a higher level—between Russian and Lithuanian customers—the issues were not resolved for a whole year. We did not understand the lingering of the Russian side and consequently had an 8 months long delay because of them. It was not the builders’ fault; it was due to the long procedure, which is typical for Russia. That is why, even though the Russian market is huge and somewhat attractive, our shareholders are not ready to cooperate under such conditions and are not relying on this market at all.

If we are talking about our neighbouring countries, the Baltics, I was surprised that requirements for the construction works are quite different. For example, in Lithuania the customer has to prepare a detail design, which is evaluated by the contractor who then concludes an agreement with designers to develop a project for specific works. Consequently, the contractor cannot make significant changes; however, he is able to adapt the project to fit his technologies and capabilities, as well as to control the development of the project, so that the project contains all the necessary information for the builder to execute works qualitatively and on time. Latvia does not have such system – the contractor has to work with the customer’s project as it is and does not have an opportunity to influence the designer to eliminate mistakes.

So if there is a mistake in a project, there is no way to eliminate it?

That is right. Whereas in Estonia the customer provides only the basic parameters of the object. Then we design it ourselves, harmonise it with the customer and commence the construction. This system might seem more complicated, but it is beneficial or the builders. For example, LNK Group has its own reinforced concrete plant, so we can use our capabilities to the full extent.

Lithuania has the most bureaucratic construction process, but in Estonia, matters of documentation are not as important. Latvia stands out because technical matters are often in the middle distance, while strict obedience to the law and legal agreements is in the foreground. It seems like everyone wants papers and signatures to be in order, nothing else matters.

Full interview is available in the 28 September issue of Dienas Bizness newspaper.