MPs Support Bill on Coastal Maritime Transport

By 26 January 2022
MPs Support Bill on Coastal Maritime Transport
Photo: Ivo Cagalj/PIXSELL

ZAGREB, 26 Jan 2022 - MPs, both of the ruling majority and of the opposition, on Wednesday supported the final bill on regular and occasional coastal maritime transport, underscoring the importance of transport links between islands and the mainland for improving living conditions and economic development.

Presenting the draft bill in the parliament, the State Secretary at the Ministry of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure, Josip Bilaver, said that the aim of the law was to permanently connect islands with the mainland, and inhabited islands with one another, as well as to increase the existing and introduce new routes for better mobility, faster transport, balanced development of counties and better living conditions on islands.

He said that the new law, among other things, regulated the issue of privilege and free transport and provided free transport for firefighters and their vehicles, including professional firefighters and members of volunteer fire departments.

"I believe that the law will contribute to more frequent lines and a better service, especially for islanders," Bilaver said.

Marijana Puljak announced that she would support the bill on behalf of the parliamentary group of the Centre and GLAS parties, saying that transport was of vital importance for the inhabitants for economic development, improving living conditions and work on islands.

Marina Opačak Bilić (Social Democrats Group) agreed with that, stressing that without good connectivity, which had to exist throughout the year, island populations would decline. She also asked whether the inhabitants of Pelješac would lose their existing boat lines due to the construction of the bridge.

Urša Raukar Gamulin (Green-Left Bloc) thinks the law may be even more important to island inhabitants than the Islands Act because, she said, it is crucial to prevent people from leaving and facilitating island life.

Noting that the law was another step forward in better island transport connectivity, Branko Bačić (HDZ) said that there were 51 state lines (ferry, boat and fast boat lines) and that maritime transport involved about 14 million passengers and 3.5 million vehicles.

He also said that the state allocated about HRK 315 million per year for maritime transport from the budget.

Recalling that the national passenger shipping company Jadrolinija this year celebrated its 70th anniversary, Bačić said that it had taken a big step forward over the past 15 years in the procurement of better and faster ships and fleet rejuvenation. Also, in addition to Jadrolinija, private shipowners have turned to fast boat transport and the purchase of catamarans, which has led to even better island connectivity, he said.

Bačić said that although it was getting a bridge, Pelješac should stay an island because if Pag, Krk, Murter and Čiovo were islands, he saw no reason why Pelješac wouldn't be one.

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