Tuesday, 15 March 2022

Mayor Announces Public Consultation on Reconstruction of Zagreb's Upper, Lower Town

ZAGREB, 15 March 2022 - Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević said on Tuesday that a programme for the city's integral reconstruction, focusing on the seismic retrofitting and integral reconstruction of the Upper and Lower Town districts, that is, the city's historical centre, would be presented on 22 March. 

"Next Tuesday public consultation will be launched on the programme for the integral reconstruction of the city's historical centre. In addition to that, an expert discussion and a set of round tables will be launched to include citizens and experts in the process... in order to use the reconstruction process to revitalise the city's historical centre," the mayor said at a news conference.

His deputy Luka Korlaet said the programme for the integral reconstruction of the city's historical centre would be presented on 22 March, on the second anniversary of the Zagreb earthquake.

"It will be the first long-term strategic document of that kind, providing guidelines for the state, city, private owners and investors on how to carry out not only seismic retrofitting but how to make the city better as a whole," Korlaet said.

He said the document was aimed at defining a new approach to urban development to make the city safer and greener and make its residents' quality of life better, with less traffic jams and lower utility bills.

Point for mass vaccination at Zagreb Trade Fair Centre closed

Tomašević said that after almost a year, the point for mass vaccination against COVID-19 at the Zagreb Trade Fair Centre closed down last weekend.

Between 50 and 100 medical workers worked at the location on a daily basis for the past 12 months, administering close to 480,000 vaccine doses, he said.

"We need to continue to be cautious, and if the current trend changes, we will be ready to respond with mass vaccination capacity," the mayor stressed.

He also announced that the city ZET public transportation company would be offering free public transport for Ukrainian refugees who have a certificate issued by the Ministry of the Interior proving their displaced person status.

Sunday, 20 February 2022

€266k Contracts Inked for Zagreb Health Institutions' Post-quake Reconstruction

ZAGREB, 20 Feb 2022 - A total of 43 contracts, worth 1.98 billion kuna, have been signed so far for the post-quake reconstruction of health institutions in Zagreb and its surroundings, since the 22 March 2020 devastating earthquake, according to the data provided by the Health Ministry.

Since the advertisement of a tender inviting healthcare institutions to apply for EU grants, there have been 60 applications, most of which are from university clinical centres, general hospitals and local health centres.

Croatia will be able to use money from the European Solidarity Fund (ESF) for earthquake relief until June 2023, one year longer than the initial 18 months given.

When it comes to urgent post-quake reconstruction, one application refers to works valued at HRK 4.2 million where to date, outlays have been disbursed to cover HRK 584,000 of that amount.

For instance, the damage caused by the tremor to the University Hospital Centre (KBC) Zagreb is estimated at HRK 1.1 billion.

The City of Zagreb administration plans to submit an additional 20 projects for the reconstruction of local health institutions for these grants.

(€1 = HRK 7.5)

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Friday, 28 January 2022

Opposition Says There Won't Be Reconstruction as Long as Horvat is Minister

ZAGREB, 28 Jan 2022 - Opposition parties said in parliament on Friday they were submitting a motion for the replacement of Construction Minister Darko Horvat over the slow pace of post-earthquake reconstruction of Zagreb and Sisak-Moslavina County and insufficient absorption of funding from the EU Solidarity Fund.

GLAS party leader Anka Mrak Taritaš said all citizens were aware that Horvat could not do the job of reconstruction.

"PM Andrej Plenković will defend Horvat but deep down he, too, is aware that he cannot do this job. As long as Horvat is in this post, there will be no reconstruction," Mrak Taritaš, who launched the motion, said at a news conference attended by representatives of all parliamentary opposition parties.

55 signatures collected so far

"Two years have passed since the earthquake in Zagreb and one since the earthquake in Banija. Much has been said but little has been done," Mrak Taritaš said, noting that it was time for Horvat to go and that her motion was supported by 55 MPs.

Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Peđa Grbin said Horvat's incompetence was causing huge damage to the country.

"Tenders are not being conducted and again there are some firms that are being investigated by the European Prosecutor's Office over corruption scandals, as well as firms that will be given millions for reconstruction. This is a typical HDZ story and one must put an end to it," said Grbin, adding that once the deadline for the absorption of EU funds expired, Plenković's responsibility would be discussed as well.

Sandra Benčić of the Green-Left Bloc said that on 15 January the government triumphantly said that the first houses damaged in the earthquake in Krapina-Zagorje County would be demolished in the spring, exactly two years after the earthquake.

"If that is not reason enough for the main coordinator of the reconstruction process to step down, I don't know what is," she said, adding that the motion was not about muscle-flexing but about whether citizens would spend a third winter in containers and those in Sisak-Moslavina County a second. "Has the state really rebuilt fewer houses than one foundation, more specifically Solidarna," she said.

Bridge: PM assuming responsibility 

Ivana Posavec Krivec of the Social Democrats group said the issue of Horvat's replacement was a matter of Croatia's future.

"If PM Plenković is not willing to replace the weakest link in his government, he is assuming full responsibility, and all those who vote for his stay assume the responsibility of inactivity. The Opposition is calling on the PM to act sensibly, this is the last moment to replace this weakest link and set reconstruction in motion. The ball is in the PM's court," she said.

Marija Selak Raspudić of the Bridge party said that by defending Horvat, PM Plenković "believes he is demonstrating his power over the Opposition, because this power play, let's be honest, is the only thing he is interested in."

She added that Plenković was assuming responsibility and gambling with his post by defending Horvat.

Selak Raspudić also pointed to the drastic, 40% increase in domestic violence across the country during the coronavirus pandemic, noting that the figure was even worse for the earthquake-struck Sisak-Moslavina County, where people were forced to stay in small housing containers.

The motion for Horvat's replacement was also supported by Emil Daus of the Istrian Democratic Party (IDS), Katarina Peović of the Workers' Front, and independent MP Damir Bajs.

Bajs said that neither the government nor its coalition partners were satisfied with the pace of the reconstruction process.

"This is the first time a minister facing replacement enjoys only conditional support from the coalition partners and the HDZ itself. Let us do something and help people start living normally," said Bajs.

For more, check out our politics section.

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.

For more about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

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)

For more news about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

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.

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