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03/12/2020   National Audit Office: funding for roads is not always used properly, and decisions on the execution of works sometimes lack rationality

The use of investments for the Lithuanian road infrastructure lacks efficiency, road works are not always planned on the basis of sufficient data, changes of planned works are not always justified, and supervision of the quality of works is not sufficient enough to ensure that road works will be carried out qualitatively, as demonstrated by the results of the audit “Management of Road Infrastructure” carried out by the National Audit Office.

The road network in Lithuania consists of 85.5 thousand km, approximately EUR 620 million is used annually to build and maintain them. The roads are divided into the roads of the State (mainstream, national, regional) and local (public, internal) significance. Roads of State significance are managed by the Lithuanian Road Administration (LAKD). Public roads of local significance and streets belong to municipalities by the right of ownership, while internal roads belong to the State, municipalities, other legal and natural persons.

“Audit results show that the planned development of the country’s roads is not always consistent with the current situation. Last year, as many as 60 % of asphalt roads of the State significance were in bad or very bad condition. The intensity of these main roads in Lithuania amounted to about 12 thousand vehicles per day, whereas, as much as 39 % of all the funds earmarked for repairing roads were used to asphalt the gravel roads, with traffic on average of 500 vehicles per day. There have also been 16 % of cases identified when works were carried out on those sections of the State roads which were in good condition, 10 % of cases, when works were carried out where the condition was not even assessed", – says Mindaugas Milčiūnas, Chief Advisor of the Economic Audit Department of the National Audit Office.

Shortcomings have also been identified in the assessment of the roads managed by municipalities. According to the auditors, the audited municipalities do not have sufficient data to plan their works effectively, road length data is not always accurate, half of the audited municipalities have not established criteria for prioritisation of works. In addition, there have also been cases where funds have been used to asphalt such streets which are used by residents of only 1 or 9 households.

As regards the execution of works, the LAKD did not always carry out works on the State roads between 2016 and 2019 as planned: 8 % of road works were delayed to start on time, aspfalt works on 66 % of roads and 73 % of gravel roads were not started, and EUR 272 million (31 % of the Road Maintenance and Development Programme funds used for the repair of these roads) was used for such works that were not in priority orders. Deficiencies were also found in the roads belonging to municipalities – all the audited municipalities observed the established priority orders only in part, not all road works were carried out within the set time limits.

Also in 2020, trends remained similar, with 13 % of cases where work was carried out or planned for sections in good condition. A further EUR 5.7 million was used to asphalt such gravel roads, which were not included into priority orders.

Supervision of work quality control is another important element of road infrastructure management. The audit found that the LAKD does not always properly carry out the supervision of the quality of works in the sites of the State roads, because when accepting the works performed it does not impartially ascertain whether the performed works and their quality conform to the requirements of legal acts. The LAKD did not apply to the contractor for 5 % of the defects in the construction works covered by the warranty period. A study on the quality of roads of local significance, carried out for the first time in Lithuania, showed that there were inconsistencies in 14 (87 %) out of the 16 studied sites on 8 roads. The results of the study will be presented to the LAKD and the municipalities, where issues concerning the elimination of identified defects will be addressed with contractors.

Despite the identified shortcomings, the auditors also note positive developments: in 2018, studies on the quality of roads of the State significance were carried out; in 2019, the condition of all roads of the State significance was assessed, in 2020, priority orders of works are created for all road sites, 28 % (4 out of 14) of  audited municipalities have already performed cadastral measurements of more than half of their roads.

Implementation of the recommendations of this audit will ensure targeted road infrastructure management policy, improved quality of roads, more efficient use of road funding, data-based planning of road construction or repairs.

 

Responsible for the information Communication Division
Last updated on 6 January 2021

National Audit Office of Lithuania

Pamėnkalnio St 27, LT-01113 Vilnius, Phone: +370 608 92 636, Email: nao@vkontrole.lt.