DEVELOPMENT OF THE RIGA TRAM INFRASTRUCTURE
The first horse-drawn tram started taking people around Riga, the capital of Latvia, in 1882. Today’s network of trams is still the most used form of public transport for the city’s 800.000 inhabitants, but horses are now long gone. Over the years, the Riga tram infrastructure has been updated and expanded, and a further €128 million plan has been approved to renovate it. In November 2016, Transparency International Latvia signed an Integrity Pact to ensure that the money is well-spent and accounted for.
However, in May 2019, the Central Finance and Contracting Agency of Latvia – the government authority tasked with supervision of EU-funded projects – announced the decision to unilaterally terminate the Riga tramline project due to suspicions of fraud, mismanagement and unacceptably high risks. The authority’s decision draws on an external audit report scrutinising the activities of Riga Satiksme – a city-owned company that managed the project. The Central Finance and Contracting Agency of Latvia has ordered Riga Satiksme to return nearly half a million Euro received for the project by August 2019.
At the end of 2019, a joint investigation with Polish authorities led to a high-profile bribery case concerning another of the company’s projects, resulting in resignation of Riga’s deputy mayor and suspension of the mayor, as well as arrests of staff.
Transparency International Latvia, as an independent monitor on this project, was able to identify and act on corruption and competition risks on numerous occasions. In February 2019, for instance, the watchdog complained about restrictive tender requirements in the tram procurement process.
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