Thursday, 30 December 2021

Gov't Adopts Sisak-Moslavina County Revitalisation Programme

ZAGREB, 30 Dec 2021 - The government on Thursday adopted an HRK 15.3 billion program for the social and economic revitalization of assisted areas in Sisak-Moslavina County following last year's earthquake, and the companies there will receive the most in both domestic and EU support.

Regional Development and EU Funds Minister Nataša Tramišak recalled that the government decided to draw up the program on 14 January 2021, two weeks after the quake, and said the program would run until 2029.

The new regional support map, which enters into force on 1 January, allows for considerably higher co-financing of regional state support throughout Croatia, she said.

Big companies will be eligible for 60% of the support, medium-sized ones for 70%, and small ones for 75%, she added.

The program focuses on stimulating the development of Sisak-Moslavina County's competitiveness and on eliminating the effects of the earthquake, which is in line with the government's intention to reconstruct buildings and the infrastructure as soon as possible and to create a stimulating framework for social and economic revitalization.

Tramišak said the program covered 15 measures and 52 activities aimed at economic growth and development as well as at raising the standard of living.

Speaking at today's cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said HRK 15 billion would be invested in the development of the earthquake-hit Banovina region.

"We will work intensively, without any false promises or illusions that the reconstruction process, following such devastating damage, can be completed in an extremely short time. There is no area that suffered such a big earthquake where everything was rebuilt in under one year. Those are false theses and they delude people," he said.

"We are realistic and ready to work 24 hours a day... but we are aware that such processes require preparation and time," he added.

Speaking of the HRK 15 billion programs for the economic, demographic, and social revitalization of Sisak-Moslavina County, he said the government wished to stimulate the development of the Banovina region through infrastructure, economic, and population projects.

One of the key projects is the extension of the Lekenik-Sisak motorway, he said.

Works are underway on almost 900 houses, reconstruction has been contracted for 3,600, a call for applications is being prepared for 1,200 houses, and applications have been invited for the construction of 165 family houses and ten apartment buildings, Plenković said, adding that the government wanted the rebuilt houses to be more earthquake-resistant.

He recalled that eight people were killed in the magnitude 6.2 quake in Sisak-Moslavina County on 29 December 2020, that more than 40,000 houses and buildings were damaged and that the damage was estimated at HRK 40 billion.

The prime minister thanked everyone who helped after the tremor and was still helping.

He also recalled that those who lost their homes were given temporary accommodation and exempted from paying heating and electricity bills as well as road tolls, adding that farmers, business owners, towns, and counties were given financial aid.

"The Croatian government has stood behind Banovina and done all in its power to make life easier for people," Plenković said, adding that over HRK 1 billion has been paid in aid and HRK 315 million for job retention.

He recalled that 1,106 houses have been rebuilt, to which more than 6,000 people have returned, and that 5,600 of Sisak-Moslavina County's 160,000 inhabitants are accommodated in mobile homes.

For more on politics, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 30 December 2021

Seismologist Kresimir Kuk Talks Earthquakes as Petrinja Ground Still Moves

December the 30th, 2021 - Is the Republic of Croatia experiencing more earthquakes and tremors than before? With the natural disaster which struck Petrinja on the 29th of December 2020 now one entire year behind us, seismologist Kresimir Kuk seeks to explain a few things about one of Mother Nature's most unpredictable and devastating events - earthquakes.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, one year and one day ago, the Central Croatian region of Banovina was hit by a devastating earthquake of magnitude 6.2 on the Richter scale with an epicentre located a mere 5 kilometres southwest of Petrinja. A year later the ground is still shaking and Petrinja is still suffering terribly as a result.

''The expected usual phenomenon that follows after each strong earthquake has shown itself to be true, a series of subsequent earthquakes have been going on for a long time in Petrinja now. The stronger the main earthquake, the longer the subsequent series lasts, and it contains earthquakes that are stronger considering the strength of the main one,'' Kresimir Kuk, a well known Croatian seismologist, pointed out when in conversation with HRT.

''The southern coast, in fact the whole of southern Croatia is seismically more endangered than the rest of Croatia is, stronger earthquakes are possible there. In a longer period of time there are earthquakes that are also more frequent. There may be earthquakes which strike with an intensity of about 7 on the Richter scale down in Dubrovnik, and they've happened in the past,'' added Kresimir Kuk.

''Now they're monitored more in this country, and when looking at some sort of longer period of time, then no, we couldn't really say that global seismic activity on earth has intensified. There are always periods when such activity is more pronounced and when it's weaker, both in this country and everywhere else. The fact is that now after these earthquakes, both in Zagreb and Petrinja, earthquakes that are located much further away from us are being reported in the media,'' explained seismologist Kresimir Kuk.

Earthquakes in the rest of the world

Kresimir Kuk noted that recent earthquakes over in Japan, where their magnitude is a horrifying 8 on the Richter scale aren't at all uncommon for the area, but that such countries also have infrastructure adapted entirely to it, so it doesn’t usually cause much damage to a lot of people living there.

"I had the opportunity to talk to the Chilean media after the Croatian earthquakes struck, and they were terribly surprised by the horrible consequences of a 6.2 magnitude earthquake," he said, adding that earthquakes in places such as Chile are much, much stronger, that there are several parameters that are different, such as the depth of the earth where the earthquake occurs because the epicentre is closer to the surface, and in such cases the more devastating the earthquake is, and a couple of other geographical factors.

A seismological network here in Croatia is being set up...

''We installed the network as soon as we got it all through a government intervention, immediately after the series of Petrinja earthquakes. They record a lot of earthquakes, and they record data which is of great importance that will be used in the coming decades in various scientific disciplines, not just seismology. So far, in the wider Petrinja area, so in the Banovina area, we've recorded about 1,400 earthquakes of magnitude greater than 2. There have been two earthquakes of magnitude 5, about 17 earthquakes of magnitude between 4 and 5, so a huge amount of earthquakes have taken place and a large amount of data hasn't been processed,'' he explained.

''The soil in the Petrinja area is still very active, it is now beginning to calm down, but this is simply a process that lasts and is not uniform,'' warned seismologist Kresimir Kuk.

For more, check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 29 December 2021

President Says PM Most Responsible for Slow Post-quake Reconstruction

ZAGREB, 29 Dec 2021 - President Zoran Milanović said on Wednesday post-earthquake reconstruction in Sisak-Moslavina County was slow and that the biggest problem was organisation and crisis management, adding that Prime Minister Andrej Plenković was the most responsible for that.

"Things are going slowly. If something doesn't change in a couple of months, fine, but a lot should have been completed by now," the president said after visiting Glina.

A lot of money has been spent but little is visible, he added.

He said Deputy Prime Minister Tomo Medved, who chairs the government's task force in charge of dealing with the consequences of last December's earthquakes, "has no proper influence because he doesn't decide on key matters."

There is no justification for the fact that people still depend on donations and that the construction of their houses has not begun, Milanović said.

He mentioned an apartment building in Sisak that has still not been torn down, whose 500 residents still live in container homes.

Asked whom he considered the most responsible for this state of affairs, the president said it was the prime minister and that organisation was poor.

He criticised Plenković's signing of an agreement on the construction of a gymnasium in Petrinja, saying that "people... need flats, not a gymnasium."

Milanović said it was necessary to adjust laws and avoid excuses, lamenting that "everything is on hold because of public procurement. That's unacceptable, it must go faster."

There is money from donations and the EU, he added.

Wednesday, 29 December 2021

Plenković in Petrinja: What Hasn't been Done by Now will be Done in the Future

ZAGREB, 29 Dec 2021 - The first phase of reconstruction of buildings in the Banovina region that suffered minor damage in last year's earthquake will be followed by the reconstruction of severely damaged buildings and tenders for substitute housing, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in Petrinja on Wednesday.

The reconstruction of buildings that suffered major damage is now ahead of us. This entails structural and comprehensive reconstruction and further tenders for the construction of substitute houses and apartment buildings," Plenković said at a meeting of the task force charged with the post-earthquake reconstruction of Sisak-Moslavina County and two other counties.

He said that the reconstruction process was gaining momentum and that a lot had been done. "Of course, more could have been done, and better and faster, but we will do it. What hasn't been done by now will be done in the future. But a lot has been done," the prime minister said.

Asked by reporters what he was not satisfied with, Plenković said that it was the general pace of the reconstruction process. He stressed his support for the task force, even though he would like "things to be faster."

"I would like to see more buildings here, 100 substitute houses and 20 apartment buildings. I hope that things will be more visible on the second anniversary. Whoever understands the procedure concerning project documentation and tender preparation knows that these things cannot be done overnight," Plenković said.

He said that in the past year the government had made maximum effort to make life easier for the people of Banovina after the disaster, investing over a billion kuna through different measures, providing alternative accommodation and hot meals, and exempting local residents from paying energy bills, the motorway toll and so on.

Plenković said that the government would make good on all its promises, and that now it would focus on shortening the period of alternative accommodation for 5,500 people.

He said that the reconstruction strategy was to first focus on repairing minor damage and then move on to repairing major damage.

Structural and comprehensive reconstruction starts in 2022 with the reconstruction of 26,000 buildings that suffered minor damage, 8,000 buildings that suffered medium damage and 4,000 heavily damaged buildings. 

Responding to questions from the press, Plenković said that deadlines for the construction of substitute houses and apartment buildings could not be specified at this point, stressing that tenders had been issued for substitute family houses and for 10 substitute buildings with 150 apartments.

"If there are no procedural problems, they should be built before the end of next year," the prime minister said.

He announced that at its meeting on Thursday the government would adopt a HRK 15 billion programme of measures for Banovina. He said that one of the key projects was to finish the Zagreb-Sisak motorway, which would provide strategic impulse for the revitalisation of life in this area.

Wednesday, 29 December 2021

Deputy PM Says Government to Step Up Post-quake Reconstruction, Revitalise Banovina

ZAGREB, 29 Dec 2021 - Deputy PM Tomo Medved said in Petrinja on Wednesday, after touring the area hit by a strong earthquake on 29 December 2020, that the government wanted to step up reconstruction more strongly and not only restore the situation to how it was before the quake but fully revitalise the Banovina region.

"We aim to even more strongly step up the reconstruction process in the period to come, following activities conducted in 2021 - from the provision of housing for the local population, infrastructure measures and the removal of the most heavily damaged buildings... to road and power and water supply grid repairs," said Medved, who chairs the government's task force in charge of removing the consequences of the earthquake.

He called on local residents, notably the 5,666 who are still staying in temporary housing units, to cooperate "so that together and with optimism we can embark on the reconstruction process," and thanked the earthquake victims for understanding.

After in 2021 non-structural reconstruction started, during which more than 1,000 houses were repaired and their occupants, 6,500 of them, returned to their homes, the main priority now are all types of reconstruction, said Medved, recalling that tenders had been published for the construction of apartment buildings.

He called for cooperation with the central state office for reconstruction in Petrinja, expressing confidence citizens had recognised the efforts that were being invested, including organised mobile offices where they could submit their requests for reconstruction and seek any other type of support.

Construction Minister Darko Horvat said an agreement was signed with Sisak-Moslavina County head Ivan Celjak for the construction of a new secondary school in Sisak and a new secondary school in Petrinja, thanking the Gavrilović meat company for donating land for the latter school. We will support those investments with HRK 105 million, he said, adding that the new schools would be built in slightly more than a year.

Milošević: Task force, gov't aware of need to build better housing stock, infrastructure

Deputy PM Boris Milošević underlined the hard work done by the task force, thanking citizens for solidarity with the earthquake victims as well as the humanitarian organisations and volunteers helping them.

"The government and its task force believe it is not enough to just rebuild what was destroyed, one must build a better housing stock, better roads... ensure better mobile phone signal coverage and everything else that makes life better and more pleasant. All of that needs to be done to motivate people to stay here and those who have left to return," said Milošević.

The head of the Central State Office for Reconstruction and Housing, Gordan Hanžek, said that project documentation was being made for 6,000 housing units and that a public procurement procedure had been launched for 1,800 housing units, with an estimated value of construction work of HRK 275 million.

Public procurement procedures for work worth half a billion kuna have been launched, he said, adding that next year public procurement procedures would continue to be launched to enable preparations for the construction of 500 family homes to be completed by early March.

"We hope for a response from the construction sector," he said, noting that 1,200 projects for seismic retrofitting and non-structural reconstruction were in the pipeline, to be completed by the start of the heating season next year.

Wednesday, 29 December 2021

PM Encounters Protesters in Petrinja

ZAGREB, 29 Dec 2021 - As he was arriving for a memorial service for the victims of the 2020 earthquake in Petrinja on Wednesday, PM Andrej Plenković encountered a large group of local residents who expressed their dissatisfaction with the slow reconstruction of the city and the Banovina region.

The protest was organised by the Petrinja Spring civil society group, and the PM and his associates were met with shouts and catcalls, with protesters displaying banners calling for a faster reconstruction process.

"Where is our future?", "We are still here, waiting", "You can do better", "Reconstruction has not begun", "I love Petrinja", and "We are not satisfied" were messages on some of the banners.

In their statements to the press, citizens expressed resentment at the slow pace of the reconstruction process in the city, heavily damaged by a magnitude 6.2 earthquake a year ago today.

Wednesday, 29 December 2021

Government Presents Key Achievements in Post-quake Reconstruction of Banovina Region

ZAGREB, 29 Dec 2021 - The government and the Civil Protection Directorate presented the key achievements and plans in the post-earthquake reconstruction of the Banovina region in Petrinja on Wednesday, saying that over a billion kuna had been invested in mitigating the consequences of last year's earthquake.    

A magnitude 6.2 earthquake that struck the region a year ago today killed eight people and damaged over 40,000 houses and buildings. The damage is estimated at nearly HRK 42 billion.

The main tremor and some 5,000 aftershocks created 149 sinkholes, 16 landslides and 14 liquefaction zones.

In the aftermath of the earthquake, 1,700 engineers and structural engineers inspected about 40,000 structures and marked 4,886 of them with red labels, 8,812 with yellow labels and 26,215 with green labels.

The presentation noted that the reconstruction process includes not just construction work but the comprehensive institutional preparation of reconstruction as well, and that the main goal is not to return to the state of affairs that had existed before but to improve this part of the country.

According to the data presented, over HRK 1 billion has been invested in mitigating the consequences of the earthquake and over HRK 2.4 billion has been secured from the EU Solidarity Fund. HRK 4.4 billion has been set aside for this purpose under the National Recovery and Resilience Plan and US$200 million has been obtained through a World Bank loan.

The data show that 458 demolished structures have been removed and nine are in the process of being removed.  A total of 5,666 people have been accommodated in 2,410 mobile homes and 260 in 93 state-owned flats, and the government is paying their rent.

A total of 1,108 family houses have been repaired, making it possible for 6,674 people to return to their homes. Work on 887 houses is under way.

A total of 8,180 requests have been submitted for non-structural reconstruction and contracts on reconstruction have been signed for 3,630 houses. As for seismic retrofitting, 420 conclusions have been made and project documentation is being made, after which tenders will be published for reconstruction work.

On Tuesday, a public procurement procedure was launched for the construction of apartment buildings in Petrinja (4), Glina (4) and Topusko (2). Construction work is expected to start three months after the launch of the public procurement procedure.

In the coming period the government has set as a priority the return of the 5,666 people currently staying in mobile housing containers to their homes, which is to be achieved by building 1,000 family houses and 800 housing units for more than one family, as well as with the seismic retrofitting of 1,000 family homes.

Also planned are investments in the traffic, energy and water supply infrastructure, where the earthquake damage has been estimated at HRK 314.55 million.

As regards the education system, 20 schools have been reconstructed, which cost HRK 10 million, and HRK 5 million has been allocated for the transport of students.

The government will help alleviate the damage caused by the earthquakes to the farm and forestry sectors with direct payments in the amount of HRK 35 million and measures designed for the affected farmers worth HRK 93 million.

As for the business sector, the government says that it has co-financed with HRK 30 million the establishment of an entrepreneurial centre and paid out HRK 14.2 million in 604 grants to small businesses.

A total of 19,650 jobs and the liquidity of 3,800 businesses have been preserved with HRK 315 million, the government says, noting that the number of workers in Sisak-Moslavina County has increased by 1,190 over the past year.

Concluding the presentation, the government noted that the reconstruction is a financially and administratively challenging and long-lasting process. "Foundations have been laid for a good and effective reconstruction process in 2022," it said.

Wednesday, 29 December 2021

Earthquake Victims Convey their Fears to President Milanović

ZAGREB, 29 Dec 2021 - President Zoran Milanović began his tour of the areas of Sisak-Moslavina County devastated in an earthquake that hit the region exactly a year ago on Wednesday by visiting Sisak, where he met with earthquake victims staying in container homes.

Accompanied by Sisak Mayor Kristina Ikić Baniček and her aides, Milanović spoke to people who were made homeless by a magnitude 6.2 earthquake that struck on 29 December 2020. Seven people were killed in the disaster and another person died several months later from severe injuries. The earthquake was preceded by a magnitude 5.0 tremor the previous day and was followed by aftershocks throughout the year.

The earthquake victims expressed fears that they would have to stay in temporary accommodation for a long time to come because even a year after the disaster they still had no information about  plans for the reconstruction of their buildings.

"I am glad that President Milanović's visit has achieved a desired effect because two days ago, when we announced the president's visit, the Ministry of Construction and State Assets notified the residents that a construction engineer would assess the damage on their buildings within the next 60 days," Mayor Ikić Baniček told reporters after the conversation with the earthquake victims.

"It was a constructive conversation during which the residents told the president they felt forgotten. At the same time, the HEP energy company is still charging them for heating even though they are not living in their damaged flats," she noted.

After visiting Sisak, Milanović went to Petrinja, where he talked to earthquake victims staying in container homes, and visited the Norković family in Novo Selo Glinsko. He is also scheduled to visit Majske Poljane, where he is due to meet with the Bjelajac family, and Glina, where he will meet with volunteers from the Chefs Club Croatia, independent volunteers from Zagreb, Istria and Banovina, and civil society activists.

Tuesday, 21 December 2021

Telemach Donates 100,000 Kuna to Petrinja Kindergarten

December 21, 2021 - As a solidarity effort towards the town that was hit hard by an earthquake almost a year ago, Telemach donates 100,000 kuna to a Petrinja kindergarten. The donation will be aimed at equipping the expanded accommodation capacities within its extended part and creating conditions for quality educational work.

In anticipation of the holidays, Telemach continues to help earthquake-stricken Petrinja with the intention of contributing to creating conditions for its youngest residents, reports Net.hr. Although the Petrinjčica Kindergarten suffered significant damage in the earthquake, it was successfully repaired with the help of donors by the beginning of the current pedagogical year, but despite this, a large number of unregistered children remained in regular enrollment due to lack of accommodation. Therefore, the donation in the amount of 100,000 kuna will be directed to equipping the newly built space for an additional five educational groups.

"Faced with the problem of insufficient accommodation capacities, we decided to go for a modular upgrade of the central kindergarten building, which will provide places for all unregistered children. In the current pedagogical year, there were as many as 49 of them who meet all the conditions for enrollment, and since every unregistered child means the potential departure of the whole family from Petrinja, we wanted to avoid such a scenario at all costs. I thank Telemach, to whom this is not the first donation directed to our city, and which we will use for the benefit of our youngest fellow citizens," said the Mayor of Petrinja Magdalena Komes.

Commenting on the current needs related to the upgrade of the central city kindergarten, the director of DV Petrinjčica, Nataša Vidović, reminded that financial resources for upgrading and equipping the kindergarten are provided exclusively through donations, which is why any help is welcome.

"Telemach's donation will be aimed at purchasing didactic equipment and furniture to equip the space under construction for five additional educational groups, so I thank Telemach whose financial support will greatly contribute to creating conditions for a quality educational process and enable our children to grow up happier.", pointed out the director Vidović.

The donation of DV Petrinjčica is a continuation of the activities with which Telemach supports the earthquake-damaged Petrinja. Thus, after the donation of two drones to the Petrinja Public Fire Brigade in December 2020, Telemach continues this year to invest in projects aimed at the well-being of children and youth and will soon raise a balloon inside which will be a large sports hall. 

"The recovery of the earthquake-stricken Petrinja is a long-term process that requires the continued support of the wider community in order to provide adequate conditions that will enable citizens of all ages to meet key living needs. In order to help rebuild the city and keep its inhabitants, especially families with children, we directed part of the funds to create the necessary conditions for the youngest Petrinja in the form of equipping the central kindergarten, while the new sports hall we will soon open to the city. but also the holding of numerous sports, cultural and social events.", concluded the director of communications of Telemach Croatia, Sonja Miočić, reminding that the citizens of Petrinja have not had a sports hall for a full year, without which they were left in last year's earthquake.

For more, check out our business section.

Monday, 20 December 2021

Croatia Must Utilise EU Funds Amounting to 320 Million Euros by Mid-2023

December the 20th, 2021 - The Republic of Croatia has an enormous 320 million euros coming to it by the end of 2021, and it must utilise it in full by mid-2023, by June of that year to be more precise. With Petrinja still shamefully waiting for redevelopment and reconstruction almost one entire year since the devastating earthquake struck, there's no time like the present.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Suzana Varosanec writes, Minister of Physical Planning, Construction and State Property, Darko Horvat, said that Croatia is absolutely ready to accept EU grants which will be spent on reconstructing Petrinja following 2020's earthquake. He said this when in conversation with Dnevnik after MEPs approved the provision at the December the 14th plenary session in which assistance to Croatia in the amount of 320 million euros was agreed upon. The enormous sum will go to repairing the damage caused by the natural disasters of 2020.

"Given the considerable experience we've gained in preparing the applications for repairing the damage from the Zagreb earthquake (which struck in March 2020), we've encouraged the end users of these funds to start drafting project documentation. What's especially important now, given that the implementing bodies are ready to accept the funds, is that at the beginning of 2022 we expect the announcement of the first public calls,'' said Horvat.

Based on the aforementioned decision, Croatia is being provided with a financial envelope of 320 million euros, including the already paid advance of 41.3 million euros. The payment of the remaining part, a sum close to 280 million euros, is expected by the end of the year. Out of a total of about 17 billion euros in estimated earthquake damage, direct damage to the Banovina area is estimated to stand at about 5.5 billion.

As the damage is far greater than the expected FSEU aid can cover, the planned distribution of aid will be largely focused on eligible costs already incurred, as well as projects already contracted or those with certain costs and deadline security. According to available data, of the already incurred or contracted costs of around 240 million euros, almost 80 million euros has been spent on operations eligible for funding from the FSEU. As for the deadline, as was the case with the previous procedure, it is 18 months from the payment of the total amount to the budget of the Republic of Croatia.

According to Minister Horvat and the national coordinating body for the implementation of earthquake remediation, if the payment is made before the end of 2021, the implementation deadline will be June 2023. 

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated politics section.

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