Saturday, 25 September 2021

Two Schools in Earthquake-Hit Banovina Region to Be Rebuilt With World Bank Loan

ZAGREB, 25 Sept, 2021 - Two schools in the earthquake-struck Banovina region will be built anew with the help of a World Bank loan, the Construction, Physical Planning and State Assets Ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

Minister Darko Horvat met earlier this week with visiting World Bank Country Manager for Croatia and Slovenia Jehan Arulpragasam, and the main reason for his visit was a $200 million loan Croatia was given by the World Bank for post-earthquake reconstruction and recovery in the area of Zagreb, hit by a 5.5 earthquake on 22 March 2020, and for strengthening the capacity of the public health system amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Key data on the project and its progress as well as challenges Croatia has been facing in the process of reconstruction were presented at the meeting.

The meeting also focused on Minister Horvat's proposal that the loan should also refer to the construction of two new secondary schools, in Sisak and Petrinja, towns in Sisak-Moslavina County, which was hit by a 6.2 earthquake on 29 December 2020.

Horvat said the meeting discussed the use of resources made available to Croatia to build two schools in Sisak-Moslavina County so as to create conditions for the safe and sustainable education of children in the earthquake-affected area.

Along with the reconstruction of houses and buildings, the reconstruction and construction of schools and medical facilities is one of our main priorities, the minister said.

The meeting was held as part of a five-day working visit of World Bank officials, who visited locations and facilities in Zagreb and in Sisak-Moslavina and Karlovac counties most affected by the earthquake, whose reconstruction is to be financed with the World Bank loan.

The 22 March 2020 earthquake in Zagreb and its surroundings is estimated to have caused damage to buildings in the amount of some HRK 86 billion, which is more than 60% of the state budget.

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Monday, 30 August 2021

Agreement on Project Documentation for 288 Houses in Quake-Hit Banovina

ZAGREB, 30 Aug 2021 - Central State Reconstruction and Housing Office state secretary Gordan Hanžek said, after a meeting of the task force dealing with the aftermath of last year's quakes on Monday, that they had agreed on drafting project documentation for 288 houses.

"It is for houses issued a yellow or red label, which are designated for reconstruction. Project documentation for the construction of standard replacement facilities has been contracted. Those are 55-, 70- and 85-square-metre buildings, for two-, three- or four-member and multi-member households. Contracts have been signed and you will be informed about their content," Hanžek said.

He added that two solutions were planned - for rural and urban buildings. According to Hanžek, the project will first be presented to the owners, who will choose between two available types of buildings. Either type can be prefabricated or traditionally constructed, depending on the owners' wishes. Of course, the construction period is shorter for prefabricated buildings, while the deadline will be slightly longer for traditional masonry construction.

"We expect the first contracts for the construction of replacement houses by the end of the year," Hanžek said.

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Monday, 30 August 2021

President: If Reconstruction Continues at Current Pace, We Will Lose Petrinja

ZAGREB, 30 Aug 2021 - President Zoran Milanović said on Monday that the post-earthquake reconstruction process was too slow, warning that if it continued at the current pace, Croatia would lose Petrinja.

"Nothing is happening, unfortunately the process is too slow and if it continues at the current pace, we will lose Petrinja," Milanović said in reference to the town in Sisak-Moslavina County, hit hardest by the 29 December 2020 earthquake.

Asked about the pace of reconstruction, he said: "It is never easy and cannot be easy due to property-rights relations, but if you want something, you remove some barriers, possibly making some minor mistake or damage in the process that you later rectify."

"Croatia today would not have highways that were built, designed and financed in two years if we had dealt with every single private property separately, it would have taken us 300 years had we done so," he added.

He added that Petrinja and Glina, another town that suffered extensive damage in the earthquake, should not be "a tall order" and that adopting a new reconstruction law should be easy.

One or several key persons should be entrusted with the reconstruction process and be given financial powers, Milanović said, drawing a parallel with the process of reconstruction following the 2014 floods in the area of Gunja, which he said had been rebuilt in a few months and was of a similar size as Glina.

"As regards the region of Banija, some things require prompt solutions, there is no need for legal nitpicking over very single piece of property... one should take excavators and make order in Petrinja, there will be people who will file lawsuits but that will be dealt with in the process, otherwise we will lose the city," said Milanović.

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Friday, 13 August 2021

Minister: Two Letters of Interest for Textile Company Orljava

ZAGREB, 13 Aug 2021 - Construction and State Assets Minister Darko Horvat said on Friday that the Orljava textile company had received two letters of interest from companies to take over this Požega-based shirt producer and continue production.

We are doing everything we can to make such a strategic partnership happen and to ensure a normal future for at least a hundred of workers at Orljava if not for all on its payroll, Horvat told reporters during a visit to the coastal town of Vodice.

To those claiming in the media that the state has not helped the Požega-based company until now, he said that the government had so far provided HRK 24 million in various loans and lent HRK 3 million, which hadn't managed to save Orljava from bankruptcy proceedings.

I didn't want Orljava to turn into a small Uljanik and feed a company that cannot operate on the market like this and with its business plans, Minister Horvat said, stressing that if the income does not cover the expenses, then the management must ask itself what to do next.

He said they hadn't been able to receive a development plan from Orljava's management, which would have enabled them to see a new investment cycle and to determine a technical correlation with its biggest buyer until yesterday, the German company Olimp.

As for the reconstruction after the earthquakes in Zagreb and Banovina, Horvat that in addition to construction engineers, the reconstruction required lawyers due to "the catastrophic state of property relations" and the legality of buildings awaiting reconstruction.

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Sunday, 18 July 2021

Post-quake Reconstruction Fund’s Head Comments on Procedure, Fund’s Workings

ZAGREB, 18 July, 2021 -  The head of the fund for the post-quake reconstruction, Damir Vanđelić, said on Sunday that the size of the new dwellings to be provided to people, who were left homeless in the devastating quakes in 2020, would depend on the number of the household's members, as envisaged by the relevant law.

As far as the start of the construction of those dwellings is concerned, this depends on decisions to be made by the Construction Ministry, Vanđelić told the commercial N1 broadcaster.

Commenting on the procedure, Vanđelić said that there had so far been 12,000 applications submitted for reconstruction, and 19 final decisions had been made on the demolition of the damaged property, and 640 final decisions on disbursement of the financial grants.

He said that all the time the Fund urged the ministry to step up the procedure.

He also informed the broadcaster that HRK 33 million had been spent via the fund for reconstruction costs  plus HRK 26 million for emergency works paid out through the ministry.

Vanđelić said that he would leave the fund once it got into full swing and demonstrated important  elements in its workings such as efficiency, transparency.

(€1 = HRK 7.5)

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Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Croatian PM Andrej Plenković Satisfied With World Bank Support in Post-Quake Reconstruction

ZAGREB, 15 June, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Tuesday expressed satisfaction with the World Bank's support to Croatia's efforts to reconstruct the areas hit by the 2020 quakes, and with cooperation in projects aimed at facilitating the recovery of the private sector's exporters affected by the corona crisis. 

A press release issued by the government notes that the premier held a meeting with World Bank Vice President for Europe and Central Asia, Anna Bjerde, and a few other WB officials in Government House.

On that occasion, Plenković expressed satisfaction with the cooperation with the World Bank and the support that institution had provided to Croatia in the reconstruction since the earthquakes had struck Zagreb and Sisak-Moslavina County in March and December 2020.

He was quoted as saying that he was satisfied with the permanent cooperation in projects aimed at helping exporters in the private sector to recover from the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.

The prime minister in particular thanked the World Bank for its support until now in preparing Croatia's 2021-2026 National Recovery and Resilience Plan. He underscored the importance of fostering further cooperation and the implementation of projects for Zagreb's reconstruction and revitalisation of the Banovina area in Sisak County, the press release said.

In June last year the World Bank approved two $500 million projects to provide urgent support to the government in an attempt to relieve the impact of the tremors that hit Croatia and of the lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The World Bank also provided technical support in preparing a Rapid Damage and Needs Assessment (RDNA 2020), which was an important document to mobilise €683.7 million from the EU Solidarity Fund. The World Bank also provided technical assistance in the RDNA for the earthquake-struck areas in Sisak-Moslavina County.

Bjerde was accompanied at the meeting by World Bank's Country Director for the European Union Gallina Andronova Vincelette, the World Bank's new country manager in Croatia Jehan Arulpragasam, and Special Assistant at World Bank Group Fanny Weiner.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

 

Saturday, 29 May 2021

MEP Zovko Pushes for Croatia's Use of Opportunities from New European Bauhaus

ZAGREB, 29 May 2021 - The new European Bauhaus, an initiative about climate adaptation of the built environment, is an opportunity for Croatia to raise the architectural and living standards, notably in the quake-hit areas, Croatian MEP Željana Zovko told Hina on Saturday.

The idea about a new European Bauhaus was presented by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in her State of the Union speech last year. In her address to the European Parliament on that occasion, she outlined her plan to create a "new European Bauhaus" to kickstart a cultural and sustainable movement in the European Union.

The New European Bauhaus, named after the influential German design school founded by Walter Gropius in 1919, will be part of the €750 billion NextGenerationEU investment and recovery plan put in place following the coronavirus pandemic. 

Zovko, a member of the European Parliament from the ranks of the European People's Party (EPP), says that the initiative "is still in its infancy", however, the purpose is to encourage citizens, experts and professionals to develop their communities in accordance with the principles of energy sustainability and taking spatial planning approach.

The European Union is set to provide financial support to innovative ideas in that regard, with the aim of ensuring the green and digital transformation of aesthetically pleasing structures, according to this Croatian MEP.

Green construction will be the basis of a new vision of cities and rural areas in the European Union, she said.

"The new European vision will satisfy climate neutrality, and at the same make cities and villages tailored to man" she added.

The European Commission has recently published "Renovation Wave", explaining that a refurbished and improved building stock in the EU will help pave the way for a decarbonised and clean energy system, as the building sector is one of the largest energy consumers in Europe and is responsible for more than one third of the EU's emissions.

The EC calls for effective action to make Europe climate-neutral by 2050.

Until 2030, 35 million buildings are supposed to undergo energy efficient renovation.

Thus, the EC aims to double annual energy renovation rates in the next ten years. "These renovations will enhance the quality of life for people living in and using the buildings, reduce Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions, and create up to 160,000 additional green jobs in the construction sector," the EC says on its web site.

New Bauhaus seen as opportunity for post-quake reconstruction of central Croatia

Earlier this year, Zovko sent a request to the European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel, for expanding the New European Bauhaus initiative to include the safety of construction and architecture, having in mind two devastating earthquakes that hit Croatia in 2020.

Zovko is confident that funds envisaged under the New European Bauhaus scheme could be made available for reconstruction of the quake-affected areas.

Thursday, 8 April 2021

Minister Nina Obuljen Koržinek Confident of Prompt Reconstruction of Quake-Damaged Monuments

ZAGREB, 8 April, 2021 - Culture Minister Nina Obuljen Koržinek said on Thursday the most important thing in the reconstruction of the cultural heritage was to reinforce and repair all monuments in a short time and that the first allocation would help to carry out all urgent works in 18 months.

The first allocation at our disposal is €680 million from the European Solidarity Fund, she told the press, saying that the recently outlined national recovery and resilience plan included reconstruction funds.

Croatia also has at its disposal funds approved by the World Bank, she said, adding that she also expected the approval of an allocation following last December's earthquake in Sisak-Moslavina County.

She said the damage to the cultural heritage in Zagreb following the March 2020 quake was estimated at €7 billion.

The reconstruction of complex monuments such as Zagreb's Mirogoj cemetery would take years and the necessary funds will be raised from various sources, the minister said.

She said her ministry had received more than 130 acceptable reconstruction applications and that contracts had been signed for a little over 40 monuments, including sacral and public buildings.

She added that public procurement was already under way and that over the past year experts from the ministry and Zagreb's faculties of civil engineering, geodesy, and architecture had completed the required documents for all monuments.

The first objective is to reinforce the buildings to prevent them from being a threat and deteriorating, the minister said.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

 

Monday, 22 March 2021

Tomašević Announces Reconstruction of Zagreb in Four Dimensions

ZAGREB, 22 March, 2021 - A Zagreb Mayor hopeful, Tomislav Tomašević, warned on Monday on the first anniversary of the Zagreb quake that nothing had been done in the post-quake reconstruction and promised the rebuilding of the city in four dimensions if he won the 16 May local election.

"We have come to know that we do not have not one decision forwarded to the Reconstruction Fund nor has any action been taken," Tomašević told a press conference in front of the City Hall, which was organised by his We Can party and its partners: "Zagreb is Ours " and OraH parties.

He warned that the fund and Ministry of Construction are passing the buck regarding to whether decisions have been written or not and the problems they had outlined during the debate on the Reconstruction Act have now occurred.

He pushed for bringing together experts under the one roof so that good decisions can be made faster.

Tomašević said the current situation could be seen as an opportunity for reconstruction and also for earthquake-resistant development of the city in four dimensions including physical reconstruction which is aimed at increasing earthquake resilience and developing earthquake-proof infrastructure.

The plan is also to reconstruct public places which will give a social dimension to the historical centre of town and suburbs on the rim of Sljeme mountain that will include local construction companies in rebuilding projects and will increase energy efficiency and improve the quality of living as part of the fourth "green" dimension. 

MP Sandra Benčić added that the Reconstruction Fund had received money however it was not being used because blueprints had not been approved through a tender that was advertised.

They believe that the key mechanism to fund reconstruction is in the European ITU mechanism of integrated territorial management whereby structural funds are are managed by city agglomerations.

To read more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 22 March 2021

SDP Says Zagreb Should Not Only be Reconstructed But Also Revitalised

ZAGREB, 22 March, 2021 - Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Peđa Grbin and the SDP candidate for Zagreb Mayor, Joško Klisović, warned on Monday, on the first anniversary of the 22 March 2020 earthquake in Zagreb, that reconstruction had still not begun and that the capital should not only be reconstructed but revitalised as well. 

"Over the past 12 months, a law on reconstruction was adopted and after the earthquake in Petrinja, it was expanded to include the Banija region, but, as we can hear from the Reconstruction Fund.... no decision on reconstruction has arrived at the Fund from the Construction Ministry. The Ministry claims it has sent three decisions for the reconstruction of buildings, but even though the Ministry and the Fund are located only a few metres from one another, those decisions have still not reached the Fund," Grbin warned at a news conference.

If reconstruction in Zagreb as well as in Banija continues at the current pace, the question is if it will ever end and if people whose houses and buildings were damaged will be able to ever return to their homes, he said.

Grbin called on the government to ensure that reconstruction work finally started, criticising the Reconstruction Act by saying that the structural reconstruction as envisaged by it would not be sufficient as people did not have money to finance non-structural reconstruction.

Those who will have to seek loans to co-finance 20% of structural reconstruction costs will not be able to co-finance the reconstruction of other parts of their property which are equally important for normal living, he said, calling for reexamining the Reconstruction Act.

He also called for reexamining the law to expand the scope of reconstruction work to enable the revitalisation of the earthquake-damaged parts of the capital city.

"We call for renovating all buildings, with red, yellow and green labels alike, because any next quake could destablise these buildings again and cause a disaster. Around 30% of the housing stock in downtown Zagreb is older than 100 years, which means that we need an integral, radical reconstruction of the city," SDP mayoral candidate Klisović said.

He noted that given the current favourable situation on the international financial market, funding for that purpose should be sought there, mentioning also the possibility of issuing long-term bonds.

Klisović said that as mayor, he would define a price catalogue for reconstruction work considering fast-growing prices and the fact that people who have to hire a company to do reconstruction work do not know how much a certain type of work costs.

He noted that the state should increase the rate for co-financing reconstruction costs for people who live in buildings categorised as cultural property, calling also for the introduction of a special credit line for those reconstructing their houses and on the state to cover interest on those loans.

To read more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

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