European Interest

Transparency International questions fast track Prague metro deal

Flickr/fdecomite/CC BY 2.0
A photo of a Prague Metro station.

The global anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International has warned that Prague city council leaders rushed into a multi-billion crown joint venture connected with a new metro line.

The group sounded the alarm at a recent press conference to shed light on this massive joint venture to develop metro stations and the surrounding land on the proposed D metro line.

As reported by Radio Praha online, the D line heads from the centre of Prague into the city’s southern suburbs from the existing Pankrác station to the outer suburb of Písnice with links to existing central stations. The new lines will total around 11km and be a significant addition to the capital’s transport network.

But one aspect of the metro extension plans – a joint venture to develop eight of the 10 planned stations and the surrounding land has come under Transparency’s scrutiny. The announcement of the joint venture deal with Czech- based group Penta Investments – in which Penta has a decisive 51 percent stake – was made in February.

According to the report, the structuring of the competition which Penta won was strange, with one of the main factors the rate of interest it would charge on the initial investment into the joint venture. And many other questions were also raised about the joint venture’s scope, development, and what each side would bring to the table and take away from it.

“It is not very clear who will and what will be included into the deal financially, about the land and other stuff,” said David Ondráčka is transparency’s director. “The public oversight is highly problematic. It seems that the public will have no say about what projects will be built and whether urban planning aspects will be taken into account.”

City council leaders justified bringing in a private company saying it would speed up the metro construction and urban development associated with the new line. Work on the line should start in 2019.

But the anti-corruption group questions why the rush and bypassing of all debate.

ʺIn total, it’s a project worth 60bn Czech crowns which will take the next 15 to 20 years,” said Ondráčka. “We don’t see the reason for rushing now without public and expert debate. We think the city council should allow the local assembly to discuss it once or two times and answer all the questions and question marks which are very serious at the moment.ʺ

Explore more