“Dangerous for life” – how to win and implement public contracts for renovation in Silistra

The investigation by Dimitar Petsov, “For Truth”

Surely you remember the satirical 1978 Bulgarian film “Toplo” (Warm)? In its plot, a group of craftsmen agrees with the residents of a block of flats to turn on their heating and so begin the troubles that befall the inhabitants of the block. Something similar happens to one of the blocks included in the energy efficiency program in Silistra.

The project “Energy efficiency for clean air in the city of Silistra under the Operational Programme “Regions for Growth” 2014-2020″, whose total value is 1 609 217.07, includes the implementation of engineering for energy renovation of 6 multi-family residential buildings. The public procurement with this subject was launched by the Municipality of Silistra in December 2018 and completed in mid-2019. 21 participating companies, one of the local, took part in the open procedure. Through it, 6 blocks along several streets in Silistra are allocated for execution to 4 companies: along Simeon Veliki Street are Block 4, Block 6, Block 8 and Block 15, along Hristo Botev Street Block 6 and along  Dobrich Street Block 35.

The Block 6 on S. “Simeon the Great”, with a built-up area of 271 sq. m. and a floor area of 1 112 sq. m. was awarded to a company owned by a municipal councilor. It is the deputy chairman of the Municipal Council in Silistra Ivanka Tasheva (ABB). She has been involved in this activity for a long time and has won contracts for similar projects. The company “Galaxi stoi” (Galaxy form) is registered in the name of her son.

But the two largest projects – Block 4 on Simeon Veliki Street, with a built-up area of 364 m2 and a floor area of 2 592 m2 and Block 35 on Dobrich Street, with a built-up area of 406 m2 and a floor area of 2 249 m2 were awarded to the company Druster Engineering Ltd. with Dimitar Nedyalkov as manager. The company was established in 2018, when the contract was announced, and is registered in the name of his father Atanas Nedyalkov, but has become a major contractor for construction projects in the municipality. Dimitar Nedyalkov does not hold any positions in the government, but he is a close friend of GERB regional coordinator and MP Todor Stamatov Todorov, who is his godfather. For the local elections in 2019 Dimitar Nedyalkov and his wife Maria Nedyalkova openly support in social networks the candidacy of Elitsa Todorova – wife of Todor Todorov – for municipal councilor. And there is a reason why. After the local elections, Maria Nedyalkova was appointed Deputy Mayor for Humanitarian Activities in the municipality, while her husband continues to win contracts. In the procurement in question, the newly established “Druster Engineering” has won the highest complex score of 100 for another large object – the block of Hristo Botev Street № 6, but due to the limitation of Article 46 paragraph 5 of the Public Procurement Act, for the maximum possible execution by one participant of only two objects, was not allowed to qualify. This gives the opportunity to the Sofia company Kiltex Ltd. to win the execution of the project for 269 100 BGN including VAT. Another company that managed to win two projects was Setatech, but the total price for both projects was BGN 260 000 including VAT.

The roof of the block, covered with red tin sheets on the old slats

According to Art. 63, par. 63(1)(5) of the Public Procurement Act, the contracting authority may require the candidate or participant “to have staff and/or management with a certain professional competence for the performance of the contract, in case the requirement is not used as an indicator for the evaluation of tenders;”

One of the eliminated bidders, which was declared by the Mayor of Silistra in the competition for the project at 4 Simeon Veliki Street, won by “Duster Engineering”, the company Overseas Construction Ltd., appealed its elimination from the contract to the Commission for Protection of Competition. The company was excluded because it did not prove by documents that it met the criteria of the contract and did not have the staff and team of specialists to carry out the works. However, the contracting authority, the Mayor of the Municipality of Silistra, accepted on the basis of documents that “Duster Engineering” fully met the criteria and conditions. The Commission for Protection of Competition also found on the record that there was no violation in the exclusion of “Zadranichno stroitelstvo” (Abroad Construction) Ltd. and no intentional discriminatory treatment of it by the Contracting Authority, the Mayor, and dismissed the complaint as unfounded. Thus, the performance of the contract remained with the documented personnel of “Duster Engineering”.

The Commission for Protection of Competition’s decision can be read here

The contract provides for the introduction of measures to improve the energy efficiency of the buildings included in the project, such as replacing windows, installing thermal insulation on the walls, repairing the roofs, etc., with the aim of reaching energy consumption class “C”.

Work on the construction and installation of the project starts in October 2020 and should take 90 days, but in Block 4 it is delayed because of problems with the building permit, residents there say. Subsequently, the peripheries of implementation began. The contractor is starting to renovate and rehabilitate the building from the bottom up, not from the roof down. This made the owners suspicious, and they started disputes with him about the roof repairs.


Price proposal for repairs approved in the contract where the work for insulation and roof repairs is described.

Under the contract, an authorized representative of the homeowners association, the mayor, and the consultant firm may supervise during the performance. The contractor told them that in the implementation for the price of 249 thousand BGN. (BGN 299 thousand including VAT) for the project did not include roof repairs and replacement of roof tiles, and he would not do it. Haggling began in the style of the bash master that “the money is not enough”. Mikhail Nikolov, who was authorised by the owners’ association to supervise the implementation, claims that he asked to be provided with the project documentation in order to be able to monitor the implementation and exactly what activities were included in the project, but nobody gave him such documents all the time and they did not really know what was foreseen as activities.

According to the description given by the Contracting Authority in the documentation published on the Municipality of Silistra’s website, the roof of the building is a pitched, cold type, with a wooden roof structure. The final covering is ceramic tiles installed onboard sheathing.

In the requirements for the execution of the contract for “Simeon the Great” 4, according to the Full Description and Technical Specifications, in the Structural part it is written:

“It is mandatory that the renovation of the building starts with a complete and quality replacement of roof tiles, gutters, gutters on the periphery of the roof, flashings around chimneys and dormers to prevent roof leaks”.

That is to say, not only should the roof be repaired by replacing the tiles, but this is where it should start. And subsequently to be done qualitatively so that there are no leaks.