Croatia expects large wave of investment in transport infrastructure

ZAGREB, 21.05.2019.
The Zagreb Infrastructure Summit was held on Tuesday to discuss the planning and development of infrastructure projects in Croatia, including the development of seaport, airport and railway infrastructure.

"We are witnessing a major pickup in the financing of transport infrastructure. Since funding from one source is not enough, we are combining all sources available to us.". - said Tomislav Mihotić, state secretary for infrastructure at the Ministry of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure.

He said that large investment projects regarding railway, road and airport infrastructure were planned, citing the railway lines Dugo Selo - Krizevci, Zabok - Zapresic, and Gradec - Sveti Ivan Zabno: "We are building the Peljesac Bridge, the largest road infrastructure project that is being implemented with EU funding, and we have also begun projects relying on domestic funding. Some are being implemented from domestic sources, some through concessions, some with the aid of EU funding, and some based on private-public partnerships.". - Mihotić said.

Speaking of road infrastructure, Mihotic pointed out the EUR 160 million Bina Istra project to upgrade the motorway network in Istria County, including the reconstruction of the Ucka tunnel. He mentioned the planned construction of a road from Krapina to the Slovenian border and the construction of an express road from Solin to Split to Omis in southern Croatia, a project worth EUR 300 million.

He also mentioned the construction of a bridge across the Sava river at Stara Gradiska and the continued construction of a motorway from the bridge at Beli Manastir in eastern Croatia to the Hungarian border.

Mihotic said that one of the largest projects was the construction of a lowland railway from the northern Adriatic city of Rijeka to the Hungarian border: "This is an extremely important strategic project because it develops maritime transport, trade and railway. If we manage to obtain funds from the EU and use them for part of this project, we will try to cover the rest through concession agreements.". - Mihotić said, and added: "Our interest is to link up with China and other remote countries so that they can use our ports as their gateway to the European market. But the general problem is the underdevelopment of all Croatian Adriatic ports, because of total traffic through the Suez, about 8 percent enters the Adriatic, while over 50 percent uses the Baltic. The port infrastructure should be much better if Central Europe is to be interested in changing the existing transport routes. That's why Chinese partners are extremely important to us.". - Mihotić said.

The deputy director for EU funds of the HZ Infrastruktura railway company, Janja Gros, said that the company planned investment projects of HRK 9.3 billion (EUR 1.26 billion), of which 60 percent would be provided by the EU.

Liu Kai, economic adviser at the Chinese Embassy in Croatia, said that the Peljesac Bridge project was a good example of cooperation between the two countries: "After a Chinese company has been selected in the tender for the construction of Peljesac Bridge, China's cooperation with Croatia has opened up a new dimension. The bridge is a symbol of the road to a joint success and cooperation between China, Croatia and the EU.". - Liu said.

He said that the Chinese economy had risen by 6.4 percent in the first quarter of this year as a result of strong industrial growth and higher consumer spending: "Complying with EU rules and standards, more and more Chinese companies are interested in investing in projects in Croatia, not just in infrastructure, but also in science, culture and tourism.". - Liu said.