VILNIUS - The Defense Ministry announced that Siauliu Plentas was the winner of a 55 million litas (16 million euro) tender to reconstruct the main runway at Zokniai's air force base, headquarters for the NATO air defense patrol. The contract between the Defense Ministry and Siauliu Plentas was signed on March 31 after the company defeated Finnish-capital firm Leminkainen Lietuva in a tender.
"This was the first tender of public acquisitions organized under international NATO procedures, and we are happy that a Lithuanian company won. Aspects of the tender were not only exceptional by procedure, but also by its value," the undersecretary in charge of acquisitions, Jurate Raguckiene, Raguckiene told the Batlic News Service. Reconstruction is scheduled to begin in May.
According to the plan, the winner will rebuild 280,000 square meters of runway paving and add 13,500 square meters of concrete at both ends of the runway.
The tender will also pave 144,000 square meters of Air Base territory, build access roads, reconstruct lighting and drainage systems and mark the pavement.
Raguckiene said that NATO's Security Investment Program would back the project, allocating about 47 million litas. The Lithuanian Defense Ministry will cover an additional 8.5 million litas in value-added tax from budgetary assignations.
Throughout the repair works, NATO fighter planes will use the bases' auxiliary runway.
Zokniai's main runway is 3.5 kilometers long and 80 meters wide. The airport serves strategic importance for NATO attaches, a fact that U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld confirmed while in Lithuania last fall.
Tender applications were received from 45 Lithuanian and foreign companies.
The reconstruction of Zokniai's auxiliary runway was carried out by Siauliu Plentas, which defeated Finland's Leminkainen Lietuva in a 38-million-litas tender last June.
Only companies with special permits from NATO members (except for France, which does not finance the project) can participate in the tender. In Lithuania, such declarations are issued by the Economy Ministry.
As the nation takes on a more active role in NATO, companies are more likely to bid for contracts, the business daily Verslo Zinios reported.
However, most bidders are still waiting for the Alliance to announce tenders in their field of activity. Some firms failed to win contracts.
Lithuania's list of eligible NATO suppliers currently includes 40 companies. Six firms have obtained declarations of eligibility, which are provided for specific NATO projects.
Those on the list include eight information technology companies, six construction firms, five textile firms, eight electronic appliances manufacturers, three security services providers and 11 companies in other areas of activity.