BULGARIA: Final tenders are due this month to build a 2·3 km extension of the Sofia metro from Serdika to Interpred (RG 6.03 p347). A first round in May attracted 12 bids, of which five were shortlisted in July.

According to Sofia Mayor Stefan Sofianski, construction will start by the end of the year. He hopes that the line will reach the Mladost residential area in the east of the city by 2007.

Shortlisted bidders include a joint venture of Mitsubishi and Nishimatsu of Japan with Spie Rail, Alstom Transport and Vinci Construction Grands Projets, and a grouping of Turkish civil contractor Yapi Merkezi with Obayashi Corp. Japan's Taisei Corp and Bouygues Travaux Publics of France have qualified separately.

JBIC is contributing US$104m towards the estimated US$150m cost, and the remainder will be provided by the municipality.