4 March 2022

Cobar: clarifications on the Covid hospital in Fiera del Levante

Concerning the article published on Wednesday, March 2 on “La Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno”, titled “How the public contract for the Fair’s hospital was rigged” and written by Mr. Massimiliano Scagliarini, Cobar SpA wishes to respond over several inaccuracies within the article and ask for due corrections and retractions. Cobar SpA requests the publication of the statement below in its entirety, as required by art. 8 of the media and press legislation n.47/1948.

It is with deep and heartfelt concern that we read the article written by Mr. Massimiliano Scagliarini, published on March 2 on page 6, and briefly quoted on the main page of the newspaper La Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno, namely in the Primo Piano regional news. This article reports a non-factual and distorted analysis on the construction of the Covid Hospital inside the Fiera del Levante.

We confirm the truthfulness of the statement that, on the basis of the technical and entrepreneurial experience and knowledge acquired in more than 40 years of work in private and public construction sites, Costruzioni Barozzi SpA, as the undertaking designated by the entrepreneurial group constituted with the company ITEM Oxigen Srl, has participated in the tender called by the Civil Protection Section of Bari for the creation of a hospital structure inside the pavilions of the Fiera del Levante, in compliance with the preliminary project prepared by the Public Contracts Authority and with a starting price of of € 9.449.000,00

We refute, as false, that the group had introduced a higher economic offer. The same untruthful statement had already been reported in the article written by the same journalist on February 25, on page 8, titled “Hospital in Bari Fair, ten other companies in jeopardy”. In fact, as a result of the participation to the tender offer, the Cobar Spa / ITEM Oxigen Srl Group of Companies was awarded the contract of the Covid Hospital in Fiera, offering a 12% reduction on the starting price, unlike the 11% reduction offered by the second company participating in the tender offer, along with numerous improvements on the preliminary project. Said project was estimated, on the basis of contract prices, in the amount of €1. 200,000.00, which remained the sole responsibility of the companies in the group, without any additional charge for the Puglia regional administration. This can be extrapolated from the award notice published on the November 20, 2020, protocol n. PI305186-20, and made public on the Empulia website that manages tender procedures. We recommend a consultation of this portal to the author of the article.

The contract was awarded to the Cobar Spa / ITEM Oxigen Srl company group based on the most economically advantageous offer, along with the proposed technical improvements, devised according to the procedures of law.

Following the awarding of the contract, and prior to starting the construction works, the company group drew up the executive project for said works strictly in accordance with the preliminary project and the starting tender price, including in it the improvements proposed during the tender (see above) at no additional cost to the Contract Authority.

Additionally, the article states as follows: “Among these, we can attest the provisions for the allocation of 2 surgery rooms, both deemed essential inside of a high intensity Covid Hospital, and yet not added to the original plan sent in the tender offer. On December 20, Mr. Lerario and Mr. Mercurio have signed a €1 million service order for the specific construction of those two surgery rooms (not included in the plan, but proposed by the awardee), on the basis of a metric calculation presented on December 13 by Cobar. Two days prior, apparently with strange and rare foresight abilities, Mr. Lerario and Mr. Mercurio had already committed the exact amount needed for said works”.

On this point, we care to specify that the preliminary project drawn up by the Civil Protection Department, and, consequently, also the executive project drawn up by the companies did not include the creation of the surgery rooms; however, they provided a simple delimitation of the spaces where the two rooms could have been allocated. Subsequently, during the carrying out of the works, in absolute compliance with the law and authorised by Article 106 from Legislative Decree No. 50, published on April 18, 2016, the Contract Authority had made some modifications to the plan, as annexes to the original contract, including the surgery rooms that were not previously included in the same contract. This operation has been performed within the limits of the price referred to in paragraph 7 of the aforementioned Article 106.  

The company group, in compliance with the commitments undertaken in the original contract, accepted and carried out the additional works requested during the course of construction, on the base of verbal service orders that emerged during formal and plenary meetings in December, at the presence of all the entities authorized to request them. While being fully aware that the aforementioned additional works had to be completed by January 15, 2021, parallel to the works that were already awarded by public contract, Cobar took a risk and proceeded with carrying out the requested integrations, while waiting for the verbal service order to be translated into written provisions, taking into account the dilated timings of bureaucracy. There was a choice to be made: either delivering the facilities requested by the regional administration, in an ongoing emergency situation, or choose to refrain from doing so, since, as correctly reported, that written service order would have only been authorised much later; the latter choice would have stopped the company from completing the works by the contract deadline. A perfectly legal practice that is customary on any contract of this type. During the height of the Covid pandemic, this course of action was even more necessary than ever.

The additional works were accounted for in accordance with the amounts provided and the works completed. This information can be verified by examining the hospital facility in question, which has been completed and made available to Contract Authority starting January 2021.

In conclusion, we are certain that this statement provides all due clarifications regarding the articles published in the press. We are open and ready to provide any further necessary clarification, so that the image and reputation of our company and the companies in the group aren’t tarnished or damaged in any way. We reserve the right to undertake all actions aimed at safeguarding our image and protect our rights, while remaining fully confident and at the full disposal of the action of judicial authorities.