Friday, 17 April 2020

Peljesac Bridge: Giant Monument to Stalled Economic Year

As Novac/Marko Biocina writes on the 16th of April, 2020, when completed in two years, with a span totalling 2400 metres, Peljesac bridge down in Dalmatia will be one of the most impressive structures of its kind in Europe. At the same time, it will probably be the most impressive monument to an end of an era of certain global economic and political relations. Or rather, just a giant memorial to an era which simply never came to fruition.

The contract to build Peljesac bridge, which was signed with China Road and Bridge Corporation back in April 2018, was seen by many as the first proverbial swallow of the coming spring in Sino-European economic cooperation. It was the first time a Chinese company had managed to ''win'' a job co-financed, in a high percentage, by European Union funds through an entirely transparent public tender, offering some of the most desirable, favourable conditions a company engaging in such a job might want.

Of course, the winning of the tender by a Chinese company didn't go without raised eyebrows and very fierce objections from numerous European construction companies and political representatives from various countries, but in the end, the European Union reluctantly replaced the whole arrangement by recognising the Chinese company as the legitimate winner of the Peljesac bridge tender.

The move was supposed to mark the grandiose entry of a Chinese construction operative into a market that had been unavailable to the Chinese for many years, but while those dealing with geopolitics dealt with the sum of the financial and indeed reputational benefits that would be gained by little Croatia owing to the matter, the coronavirus pandemic occurred.

The cranes have, more or less, continued with their work on Peljesac bridge's existing projects which were unfinished before the epidemic broke out, but the venturing onto new ones has been halted. Once the pandemic begins to dwindle back down, whenever that may be, and investments start up once again, does anyone honestly believe that the story in which Peljesac bridge plays the main role could be repeated?

The changes that will follow in relations between the European Union, Europe as a whole and most of the Western world, with China after the coronavirus crisis, have already been more than vividly evidenced by a statement given last week by the Vice-President of the European Commission, Margrethe Vestager, who made it clear in an interview with the respected Financial Times that EU member states would , and should, protect their strategically important companies from Chinese takeover.

One might rightly note that such protectionism already existed in the European Union, in a de facto sense, but nonetheless, a public mandate for its implementation by a leading liberal politician high up in the European Commission is a clear signal in which direction the European economic pendulum is turning in regard to China.

That isn't the only signal, either. Even in their ''neglect'' of the ongoing conflict between China and the Donald Trump administration, it's interesting to note that the Japanese Government has announced, as part of its anti-recession package, that it will spend $2.2 billion on co-financing the withdrawal Japanese production facilities from Chinese territory. These Japanese-owned factories aren't necessarily expected to be returned home to Japan, but this co-financing (admittedly to a lesser extent) is also available to those companies that wish to move their operations on to third countries.

These perceptions of the risk posed by economic dependence on China, either as a manufacturing base or indeed as an economic partner, will remain a lasting consequence of the coronavirus pandemic. The need to redefine economic relations between China and the West has been a kind of elephant in the international community's room for years now, long before any talk of a rapidly spreading new virus.

While, on the one hand, China's involvement in the international economic and trade system has brought enormous economic benefits to the world over the past few years, it's hard to shake the impression that China has increasingly practiced what William Nobhaus, an economic Nobel laureate, said along the way, and that is that China is free riding, meanin that the secretive nation is enjoying the benefits of public good, but it's enjoying them without having to pay an adequate portion of the associated costs.

This cost is not only financial, but it also involves engaging in the establishment of generally accepted social norms and international standards for the functioning of social services in general. In economic terms, it has long been clear that China has been taking advantage of open trade access to foreign markets, while carefully limiting the entry of anyone else to its own. Intellectually, China has profited significantly from the selective transfer of knowledge, ideas and technologies from the West, while closing reciprocal flows off in the other direction by censoring the internet and banning foreign services.

Finally, if the growing suspicion that China's various forms of negligence and abuse have contributed to the transformation of what could have remained a local epidemic into the global pandemic we're now witnessing, its credibility as a responsible international actor will absolutely be called into question. A nation that, through its leadership in multilateral organisations, seeks to lead the implementation of international policies, such as those related to health, cannot credibly do so unless it is itself capable of demonstrating the implementation of these policies and measures at the national level, at home in China.

Coronavirus-induced sino-skepticism will spark a lot of debate in the future about what the optimal levels and models of economic cooperation with China should be, and in the European Union, where this crisis has been perceived as an existential threat, these discussions will be of a far more serious nature than they will elsewhere.

At a time when the nationalisation of individual European companies is already openly advocated as a better option than ''becoming Chinese'', one can now find it easy to entertain the thought that in the post-coronavirus era, whatever shape that takes, the Chinese will no longer build bridges in the EU.

Follow our dedicated section for more on coronavirus in Croatia. Follow our business page for more on business in Croatia.

Wednesday, 8 April 2020

Boring of Tunnel on Pelješac Bridge Project Begins

ZAGREB, April 8, 2020 - Workers of the Strabag company on Tuesday began boring the main tube of the 2,467-metre-long Debeli Brijeg tunnel, which is part of the second section of an access road to the Pelješac Bridge, Croatian Roads (HC) said.

The section is 12.1 km long and Strabag is building 10.46 km. The rest will be built by the China Road and Bridge Corporation.

The Debeli Brijeg tunnel has a main and a maintenance tube. Construction on that section of the access road also envisages the Kamenice tunnel (499 m), the Doli viaduct (156 m) and two bridges, one of 488 m and one of 80 m.

The South Dalmatia Road Connectivity project, which encompasses the construction of Pelješac Bridge with access roads and the Ston ring road, is in full swing, its length totals 32 km and it runs from Duboka to Doli, HC said, adding that the project would bypass the Neum Corridor, which gives Bosnia and Herzegovina access to the sea.

More news about Pelješac Bridge can be found in the Business section.

Sunday, 23 February 2020

Peljesac Bridge: New Ship from China Carrying Parts to Arrive in Ploce

As Morski writes on the 23rd of February, 2020, a ship carrying parts and segments of the steel span structure for Peljesac bridge, which departed from China for Croatia on January the 25th, 2020, is scheduled to arrive in Ploce today.

This information was confirmed to Vecernji list from Croatian roads (Hrvatske ceste) and the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), the main contractor for the construction of the long awaited Peljesac bridge in Dalmatia.

There are no Chinese workers aboard the ship who would be remaining in Croatia following its arrival, only the ship's actual crew members. CRBC said that there were a total of 22 crew members on board the ship due to arrive in Ploce and that they were all healthy.

The Institute for Public Health of Dubrovnik-Neretva County says they have not yet received the announcement of the arrival of the ship from China to the marina on Sunday. Dr. Miljenko Ljubić, Head of the Department of Epidemiology, explained that when the ship arrives at the Port of Ploce, it will undergo full border police control and then border sanitary inspection.

The crew members will all be interviewed and asked if they have had any of the symptoms of coronavirus infection in the last fourteen days and they will be put under medical supervision if the need to do so arises. The ship's route from China ran across Singapore and the Suez Canal to Croatia's Ploce habour. The sailors will have spent almost a month on the ship prior to their arrival in Croatia, and it should be noted that the incubation period of coronavirus lasts for fourteen days.

A total of 29 segments and parts for Peljesac bridge are expected to be delivered to Ploce, making up the first contingent of the steel span structure of the future structure, with the installation of the bridge's structure scheduled to begin in March.

According to Croatian roads' data, the shipment includes the base segments of the central pillars which will be in the sea and the individual segments of steel span structure intended for the lateral part of Peljesac bridge.

Segments of the steel span structure for the bridge are being manufactured at two plants in China that have recently been temporarily closed due to coronavirus. As they explained from CRBC, production was temporarily halted at these factories for the safety and protection of workers.

Make sure to follow our lifestyle page for more.

Friday, 14 February 2020

Coronavirus Shuts Down Chinese Factory Supplying Croatia Peljesac Bridge

The Pelješki most (Pelješac Bridge) might be the first victim of the coronavirus in Croatia. The Chinese factory which is building the steel structures for the bridge is temporarily closing. Fortunately, the virus has not yet reached Croatia.


Coronavirus Closes Chinese Steel Structure Factory

The virus has paralyzed China, and that now includes the factory where steel structures are being made for the Pelješki most, according to Vibor Vlainić/Dnevnik on February 13, 2020. This does not mean that work on the bridge will cease in Croatia, but the question remains what will happen when the time comes to install these new structures.

Will the steel structures arrive in Croatia on time? Hrvatske autoceste (Croatian Roads) indicated that the contractor has not asked for an extension. The bridge is scheduled to open on July 31, 2021.

"The contractor (China Road and Bridge Corporation) has taken all the necessary measures, first and foremost, to prevent a potential (coronavirus) health threat to the construction site. They have implemented protective measures at the site and these measures are being enacted according to clear guidelines," HAC reported.

However, Hrvatske autoceste will not be able to send supervisory engineers to the factory in China due to the rapid spread of the infection in that country.


EU Heath Ministers Meeting: Croatia Will Not Close Borders

Due to the danger of the virus, a meeting of health ministers of all EU member states was held in Brussels at the invitation of the Croatian Presidency.

Although several countries have imposed entry restrictions on passengers who have been in China; Croatia has not yet followed suit. Two Chinese tourists have reported to Croatian hospitals with upper respiratory infections this past month: one in Pula and one in Split. Both tested negative for the coronavirus.

"We are not claiming to be absolutely certain (in our approach) but are taking caution. Everyone is asking about closing the Croatian borders, but that is not presently a realistic option. If the situation escalates; of course, we will consider additional factors. That is the most constructive approach for this situation, because emergency situations require extraordinary measures," explained Health Minister Vili Beroš.

At the meeting, several countries requested that each passenger coming from a country with confirmed coronavirus cases list each person with whom they have been in contact upon their entry to the European Union. But they eventually arrived at a compromise.

"It is certain that any person would be able to list all the contacts they have had, but it is expected that someone would answer whether they have had contact with people who have showed signs of illness, cough or fever or have been ill," Beroš added.

Daily updates on the coronavirus can be found here. An archive of Total Croatia News articles on the coronavirus can be accessed here.

Sunday, 2 February 2020

Preparations for Highway to Dubrovnik Continue, Feasibility Study Sought

As Novac/Vedran Marjanovic writes on the 1st of February, 2020, Croatian Motorways (Hrvatske ceste) has signed a contract with the Trafficon Pro urbe business association to develop a study on connecting southern Dalmatia to the motorway system, adding a highway to Dubrovnik, which actually marks the completion of the Zagreb-Dubrovnik motorway.

HAC expects the Trafficon Pro urbe association to create a study two routes within the aforementioned interconnection of southern Dalmatia into the highway system. The first direction is from the Metkovic junction on the A1 motorway to the future Peljesac bridge, and the second from the Doli junction down to the City of Dubrovnik in the very south.

With regard to the Peljesac bridge and access road profiles, one of the questions that the aforementioned traffic connection study will have to answer is the feasibility of a full highway profile with the option to begin the construction of two-lane thoroughfares.

The Croatian Government ordered HAC to commission the study at its session in Dubrovnik last February. On this occasion, Minister of Maritine Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure, Oleg Butkovic, expressed his expectations that the transport connection of southern Croatia to the A1, more specifically the highway to Dubrovnik, would receive European Union (EU) co-financing, much like Peljesac bridge did.

On the other hand, according to the provisions of the respective open call from HAC, the study is actually not linked to EU funding. HAC will allocate 2 million and 387 thousand kuna for the preparation of the study, and the successful bidder in the tender is obliged to submit the ordered document, completed by the end of this year.

At the aforementioned session in Dubrovnik, members of the government didn't mention either the amount of investment in connecting southern Dalmatia with the A1 motorway, nor did it mention the actual date of commencement of the works. The expected deadline for completion of Peljesac bridge is August the 1st, 2021, and the access roads should be completed one year later.

When it comes to the cost of completing the highway to Dubrovnik, Jutarnji list recalled the now distant 2009 calculations when the previous idea for the project to build a highway to Dubrovnik was studied, which would have come with a hefty price tag 732 million euros for 80 kilometres of highway from Ploce in the Neretva valley down to Dubrovnik. In this variant, ten viaducts and eight tunnels would need to be built on the imaginary thoroughfare.

Since a part of the highway from Ploce to Dubrovnik was indeed constructed in the meantime, and the study ordered may suggest different routes that would be used by the roads from previous solutions, the said amount of cash needed when it comes to the actual investment will certainly be changed when in comparison to 2009.

Make sure to follow our lifestyle page for more.

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Chinese Have Completed More Than Third of Works on Peljesac Bridge

As Morski writes on the 21st of January, 2020, the Chinese were introduced into the construction of the long awaited Peljesac bridge back at the end of July 2018, and the total value of the works carried out so far, according to Croatian Roads (Hrvatske ceste), stands at 619.9 million kuna.

This means that more than a third of the planned works have already been done on the future bridge in Dalmatia, since the total contracted price of its construction is 2.08 billion kuna, according to a report from Vecernji list.

China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), the Chinese company contracted to build Peljesac bridge, has committed to construct the bridge within three years of the launch of the works, which means by the end of July 2021. The first contingent of segments of the steel span structure of Peljesac bridge will apparently start moving from two plants in China over to Croatia at the end of this week.

Croatian Roads says they have received confirmation from CRBC that the first 29 segments of the span structure will head to the construction site of the bridge on January the 25th, on Chinese New Year. It is foreseen that ships with construction material will travel to Croatia for a maximum of 35 days, but it is expected that they will arrive at the construction site as soon as possible. Thus, it is anticipated that the first segments of the span structure will be delivered during the second half of February.

There are currently 629 workers at the Peljesac bridge construction site, of which 132 are technical and support staff, and the rest are machinists and sailors on board ships, as well as machinery. Currently, 21 vessels are being used for the construction of the bridge, namely cranes, barges for the carriage of structural members, ferries, tugboats and of course personnel ships carrying staff members.

As for the construction of access roads, more specifically the Duboka - Sparagovici/Zaradeze section, the contractor of which is Austria's Strabag, things finally got moving on the 13th of November 2019. According to Croatian Roads, the project documentation, location and building permit have all been formally submitted to the contractor, and they have submitted the timetable for the work under review for approval. By the end of December 2019, Strabag had begun organising construction sites, clearing the routes and will begin with more serious construction work this month.

Greece's Avax, however, got the green light for the construction of the Ston bypass, the Sparagovici/Zaradeze - Prapratno and Prapratno - Doli subdivisions, and it was put into operation on the 5th of December last year. Avax has also officially submitted project documentation, location and building permits, and the company has submitted a timetable for the works, which is currently under review by representatives of engineers and Croatian Roads. Avax started organising the construction site by the end of December 2019, and this month they'll also begin with preparatory work.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for more on Peljesac bridge.

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Chinese Dismiss Peljesac Bridge Guards, Police Inspect Site Safety

The Chinese have been making tremendous headway on the construction of the long awaited Peljesac bridge down in Dalmatia. The strategic project which was funded heavily by the European Union will connect not only Croatian but EU territory, removing the need to cross the non-EU border into neughbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina when driving from the extreme south of Dalmatia to the rest of the country.

Peljesc bridge saw opposition from various Bosnian politicians and was a non starter for very many years. Now that the worst is behind it, the Chinese builders have advanced to an incredible degree. Getting large parts of the bridge's foundations done before the Croatian side could even work out who was going to build the access roads. A likely story.

Yesterday, an unusual scene took place at the site of Peljesac bridge's construction as the Chinese building the bridge removed the security guards from their positions. Police presence was also noted.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 18th of January, 2020, the police arrived to the Peljesac bridge construction site to supervise the safety of the site and will issue their expert opinion as soon as possible.

China Road & Bridge Corporation (CRBC), the company chosen to build the large and highly significant structure, has fired the previous security guards who guarded and supervised the construction of Peljesac bridge, the Dubrovnik local portal Dubrovacki dnevnik reported.

Although the sight of the police arriving and the security guards being dismissed might have seemed somewhat surprising, with many hoping for some drama to unfold, according to the aforementioned Dubrovnik-based portal, the move is not really surprising because Chinese builders are very well known for being extremely cost-conscious, but on the other hand, one should not neglect the possibility of the level of the bridge's security protection, which has obviously been called into question for some reason or another.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for more on Peljesac bridge and its construction.

Saturday, 28 December 2019

Croatian Politics 2019: A Year in Review

What follows is a review of events in Croatian politics in 2019, as reported by TCN. If you would like to refresh your memory about the events which has led us here, read the reviews for the three previous years (2016, 2017, 2018).

The year started with a high-profile failure by the government. Months after it was announced that Croatia would buy used Israeli F-16 fighter planes, the US government vetoed the sale and the whole project fell through. Despite earlier warnings from experts that the deal was in question, ministers continued to claim that everything was alight. However, after a meeting between high-ranking officials from the United States and Israel, the truth was revealed. Ministers lost their nerves and the government launched an immediate investigation, which expectedly ended without any real results, and also announced that it would re-start the process. To show its level of seriousness, it even established a commission! Twelve months later, the process of deciding which aircraft to buy still hasn't move any further on and is not expected to end for at least another year.

The migrant crisis continued to be in the news this year. The inflow of migrants over the borders with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia increased somewhat, together with media coverage about alleged brutality of Croatian police and illegal pushbacks of migrants to Bosnia. The authorities were quick to deny everything, but the sheer number of documented cases makes it apparent that at least some of the allegations are founded.

Efforts to limit media freedoms continued this year and some reporters were even briefly arrested. Journalists, NGOs and international organisations stood up to these attempts, but the final score is still unknown.

Repression continued in other ways as well, with courts ruling that peaceful protesters should go to prison, Croatia's human rights situation being criticised from abroad, ethnically-motivated assaults (several of them) taking place, ombudswomen’s warnings not being heard, journalists receiving instructions from the president on what to do, and diplomats spreading hate...

Historical revisionism was in full force once again this year. As a result, representatives of Jews, Serbs and anti-fascist organisations once again boycotted the government’s annual commemoration at the site of the Jasenovac concentration camp.

European elections were held in May (with even Pamela Anderson giving recommendations to Croatian voters). While the ruling HDZ party had high hopes earlier in the year (and was supported by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who attended one of its rather controversial rallies in Zagreb), the actual results were much tighter and were interpreted by everyone as a success for the opposition (particularly SDP) and a disappointment for the government.

June brought us a few days of excitement when it seemed possible that prime minister Plenković might just succeed in his life-long dream of getting a top EU job. Despite denying he ever wanted such a thing, he was rumoured to be trying to become president of the European Commission (or president of the European Council, or perhaps something else). In the end, he had to return to Croatia empty handed, again denying his alleged attempts.

Unlike Plenković, foreign minister Marija Pejčinović-Burić was more successful in the area of career development. In June, she was elected secretary-general of the Council of Europe. She promptly resigned her post in Croatia and has not been heard about since. Another happy politician is Dubravka Šuica, who has been appointed Croatia’s commissioner in the European Commission.

Mostly good economic news continued. Public debt is at its lowest level in decades, the European Commission concluded that Croatia no longer suffered from excessive economic imbalances, and GDP growth is holding up.

One of the companies which was in the public focus this year was Croatia Airlines, Croatia’s national flag carrier. Its business results were dismal and the search for possible strategic partners was on, but without any real results. The government eventually decided to cover some of the debts, but as the year comes to and end, there is no long-term solution in sight. In the meantime, Zagreb Airport continues to lose airlines using its services.

The construction of an LNG terminal on the island of Krk has apparently started out with strong support from the US government, after many years of delays and announcements. The project is funded from the state budget, since there was no interest among anyone to actually use the terminal. The government claims that there will be interest once the terminal is built, but it would not be the first major government-funded project in Croatia’s history to fail to deliver on its promises.

The construction of Pelješac bridge continues to go at an even faster pace than expected (despite occasional Bosnian protests), mostly thanks to the efforts by the Chinese construction company which won the tender, which also brought about a marked improvement in the relations between Croatia and China. Unfortunately, the construction of the access roads leading up to the bridge has not progressed nearly as fast, with tenders being decided just several months ago. It is quite possible that, when the bridge is built, it will be unusable for a while because there will be no roads leading to it.

Emigration continues amid Croatia's demographic crisis, although somewhat slower than in previous years, probably as a result of the fact that most of those who could have left have already done so. The authorities talk about demographic revival, but nothing much has happened so far.

Political scandals were as numerous as ever. The regional development minister had an accident while driving without a driving license, the agriculture minister forgot to list all his assets on an official statement, the administration minister had his own scandals which were too numerous even to count, and the state assets minister had problems of his own. The Prime minister strongly supported his ministers before some of them resigned, and then he changed his mind and dismissed the rest of them.

The ruling coalition remained stable this year, despite occasional rumours of impending collapse. Ultimatums were rejected, resignations demanded, talks announced, decisions to stay in coalition made, threats given... Just the usual stuff.

As expected, the border dispute between Croatia and Slovenia has not been resolved this year. Slovenia was disappointed with the EU’s decision not to get involved in a dispute between its two members. The chances that this issue will feature in our review for 2020 are quite high.

In October, the European Commission announced that Croatia has fulfilled all the technical conditions to join the Schengen area. However, the final decision will require the unanimous support of all EU member states, and Slovenia does not seem ready to give its approval until the border dispute with Croatia is resolved. 

Another major project is the introduction of euro in Croatia. After a lot of talk, the government has finally sent an official request. The process will certainly take years and opinion is divided as to whether it is a good idea or not.

One of the highlights were the trade union's activities. Earlier in the year, the unions managed to collect enough signatures for a referendum against the government’s pension reform and an increase in the retirement age. The government capitulated and revoked already approved laws (although it previously warned that such a decision would be a disaster).

The other major trade union success was the primary and secondary school strike later in the year. After almost two months, the government capitulated and gave the unions more or less everything they had asked for.

One of the highlights of the next six months will be Croatia’s EU presidency. The government is promoting it as a great success, although all EU member states sooner or later get their chance to hold the rotating presidency. While Croatia's plans are ambitious, their delivery will probably be more modest.

The major event at the end of the year was the first round of Croatia's presidential elections.

While the post is largely ceremonial, elections are held every five years and still manage to occupy public attention for months. Three major candidates launched their bids: incumbent president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović (officially an independent candidate who in reality is HDZ), former SDP prime minister Zoran Milanović, and singer Miroslav Škoro, who presented himself as a candidate of change, despite having been an MP, a diplomat and a former HDZ member.

The first round was held on December 22. Zoran Milanović won with 29.6% of the vote, followed by Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović with 26.7%. Škoro was third with 24.5%. Milanović and Grabar-Kitarović will take part in the run-off on January 5.

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

VIDEO: First Parts of Peljesac Bridge Soon to Arrive from China

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 18th of December, 2019, the spacer assembly, or the main load-bearing beam, is composed of elements that are made up of welded steel sheets. These parts will soon arrive from China to Croatia and mark the continuation of the next level of works on Peljesac bridge in Dalmatia.

The first segment of steel span structure for Peljesac bridge has now been fully completed at the plants over in China, and this is something that Peljesac bridge's Chinese builders have commemorated, as can be seen in a short video posted by Croatian Roads (Hrvatske ceste).

About 400 segments of the future bridge's steel span structure will be brought in by ships from China, some parts will be six metres long and some will be twelve metres long.

The first thirty segments from China will be well on their way to the Republic of Croatia, as was reported by Večernji list, who say that Croatian Roads (Hrvatske ceste) are expecting them to arrive in mid-January next year, and they are expected to arrive at Peljesac bridge's actual construction site in late January or early February 2020. Their total weight is an enormous 6,831 tonnes.

As stated previously, the spacer assembly, or main load-bearing beam, is composed of elements that are made up of welded steel sheets. The parts of individual segments of the bridge are assembled at the factory and then transported to the construction site.

The size of the parts that can be assembled at the factory depends on the ability to transport them to the construction site where they will be assembled as a whole to be installed at the final location, within the structure of Peljesac bridge, a long awaited and strategic project for the Republic of Croatia and for the connecting of the territory of the European Union.

Watch the short video video below:

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for much more.

Thursday, 5 December 2019

Avax Starts Constructing Ston Road Within Pelješac Bridge Project

ZAGREB, December 5, 2019 - The Croatian state-run road operator Hrvatske Ceste (HC) stated on Thursday that earlier in the morning the Greek Avax company had started constructing a ring-road at Ston on the peninsula of Pelješac, which is part of the Pelješac Bridge project aimed at improving Dalmatia's road connectivity.

The Ston ring-road, consisting of the Šparagovići/Zaradeže-Prapratno and Prapratno-Doli sub-sections, is estimated at 511.5 million kuna without Value Added Tax (VAT).

The HC expects Avax to build the 18-kilometre-long ring road within 28 months.

The Šparagovići/Zaradeže-Prapratno sub-section includes a viaduct, and the Prapratno-Doli subsection two tunnels and two bridges.

A month ago, a group consisting of Strabag AG and Strabag d.o.o., started construction work on their part of access roads to the future Pelješac Bridge.

The Duboka-Šparagovići/Zaradeže section, to be built by that group, is 12.05 kilometres long and its construction will take 33 months. This segment of the network of access roads costs 478.3 million kuna without VAT.

As many as 410 Chinese and 60 Croatian workers have been hired to build the Pelješac Bridge. In addition, 21 vessels are being used for undersea work.

The bridge in southernmost Croatia is being built by the China Bridge and Road Corporation. The EU is co-financing 85% of the construction cost and Croatia the rest.

More news about the Pelješac Bridge can be found in the Business section.

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