Helsinki's Deputy Mayor Pekka Sauri says that learning about 11th hour delays to the new Länsimetro project was "the worst bad news I've had" during his time at city hall.
Pekka Sauri makes the comments on the latest episode of Newsmakers, HSTV's weekly English-language current affairs show.
In June, the city council learned that the metro extension westwards from Helsinki to Espoo would be delayed, possibly until spring 2017, from the original opening date of August 15th 2016.
"People have sort of run out of superlatives" to talk about the delay, says Sauri, which came to light only after a huge advertising campaign to inform the public about seismic changes to their transport infrastructure was in full swing. Bus contracts, previously canceled in anticipation of the new metro's opening, were hastily reinstated at a reported cost of more than 1.6 million euros per month. The new, uncompleted, metro stations even appear on the latest Google maps.
People say "it's a fiasco. It's a disaster. It's the end of the world. But it will run in time, after a few months" says Sauri.
The Green League politician, who has been Helsinki's Deputy Mayor since 2013, was blindsided when the delays were announced. "It was unthinkable, completely unbelievable" he concedes.
"It's completely unprecedented. Usually if something is going to be late, you have signals of that, warnings or whatever". He says if the project stakeholders like Helsinki and Espoo City Councils, and the HSL transport authority had known about the delays, they wouldn't have embarked on the expensive and extensive summer advertising campaign.
According to Sauri, none of Länsimetro's senior project managers have yet quit or been fired over the expensive delays; and that they still haven't figured out how much the project overruns are going to finally cost the tax payers - although it's clear that some cost burdens are going to have to be shared by Helsinki, Espoo and HSL and possibly passed on to commuters.
"We have undertaken every measure to get the metro open as quick as possible, and while we get the results of the enquiry (due at the end of October) we see if heads are going to have to roll" explains the Deputy Mayor.
"I can't point a finger, because the whole thing is so mysterious".