Tuesday, 13 September 2022

Zagreb Hospitals Become Construction Sites as Improvements Begin

September the 13th, 2022 - Zagreb hospitals have been resembling construction sites more and more frequently of late as post-earthquake improvements finally begin - 2.5 years after the March 2020 earthquake we all remember shocked Zagreb in the morning.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, two and a half years after the Zagreb earthquake of 2020 struck the capital and its surroundings, after some minor "patching up" of cracked walls, the major renovation of Zagreb hospitals has finally begun, meaning that these buildings will be construction sites for the next few years, as reported by Vecernji list.

From this week onwards, the reorganisation of the way work is carried out begins in some Zagreb hospitals. This means that the gynecology patients of KB Merkur, who have been referred their until the end of September, have been redirected to KBC Sestre milosrdnice (Sisters of Charity), where doctors from the parent institution will also performs their duties, and from October on, all clinics will work there in two shifts. The maternity hospital is also moving from Merkur to KBC Sestre milosrdnice, and partly also to KB Sveti duh. From October the 1st, oncology patients from KB Merkur will also be treated at KNC Sestre milosrdnice.

In a few weeks, the reconstruction of the gynecology clinic in Petrova will also finally begin. The maternity hospital there will not be closed down, but will instead be moved inside the building during the next year and a half, which is as long as the works there are supposed to last.

At the lung clinic at KBC Zagreb in Jordanovac, which was rendered totally unusable by the earthquake of March 2020, the first actions have begun, meaning that proper construction work should start there in the near future.

At KBC Sestre milosrdnice, the renovation of six buildings will begin in a few weeks. Structural renovation is being financed by the EU Solidarity Fund with a withdrawal deadline of June 2023, and part of the complete renovation with energy efficiency is being funded by the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NPOO).

The renovation of six buildings was contracted for a total value of 438.7 million kuna, and construction work on the first five buildings should be completed by the end of 2023, and on the sixth by May 2024.

The post-earthquake works on Zagreb hospitals started one month ago at the Dr. Fran Mihaljevic Clinic for Infectious Diseases, and a lot of work is already being carried out at the Clinic for Children's Diseases in Zagreb, according to Vecernji list journalist Romana Kovacevic Barisic.

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

Sunday, 12 June 2022

Mayor: Zagreb Ready to Help State Institutions but Not Responsible for Reconstruction

ZAGREB, 12 June 2022 - Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević said on Sunday, in a comment on the process of post-earthquake reconstruction in Zagreb, that the city administration was willing to help state institutions but that under the law, reconstruction was not the city's responsibility. 

"I have been in office for a year and I have already cooperated with two different construction ministers and two different directors of the Reconstruction Fund, and those are the two institutions responsible for the reconstruction of private buildings. It is unbelievable the process is taking so long," Tomašević said at the Projekt Ilica: Q’ART event.

Physical Planning, Construction and State Assets Minister Ivan Paladina has announced the opening of construction sites and concrete deadlines but it remains to be seen whether they will be realised, he said.

"If prices are the problem, they should be raised, both in public procurement and in the envisaged programmes," he added.

The mayor said that everything was in the government's hands and that it was unacceptable that the reconstruction process was taking so long to start. Maybe all political camps and the government have failed the most in the post-earthquake reconstruction of Zagreb, while in Banija the construction of at least some replacement homes has begun, he stressed.

Asked about the proposal by public transport operators providing regular services for the country-wide introduction of an unlimited HRK 70 monthly pass for public transport, Tomašević said that such proposals had been made also for Zagreb and neighbouring counties but years had passed and they had not been implemented.

"The proposal is good in principle, but problems arise when local authorities, city companies and transport operators have to agree concrete tariffs and who will be in charge," he said, adding that Zagreb would accept the proposal, depending on the details of the agreement.

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 12 May 2022

Croatian Earthquake Risk High According to New EU Funded Project

May the 12th, 2022 - Those of us who felt the Zagreb earthquake of March 2020 and the Central Croatian earthquake, often called the Petrinja earthquake of December 2020 still remember the horrendous and deafening sounds they caused and the disturbance in the back of the mind that has remained after having experienced them. This new EU pilot project which aims to point out the countries most vulnerable to earthquakes won't do much to ease thoughts when it comes to Croatian earthquake risk.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the cities of Istanbul and Izmir in Turkey, Catania and Naples in Italy, Bucharest in Romania and Athens in Greece are the most affected by earthquakes in Europe. In those four countries, earthquakes generated almost 80 percent of the average annual economic loss of as much as seven billion euros.

People are also entering data into this new EU pilot project. Immediately after Italy, Greece, Romania, Albania and Turkey, comes the Croatian earthquake risk, which isn't very reassuring, as Vecernji list reports.

''Yes, Croatia is the most vulnerable to earthquakes after these countries,'' confirmed Assoc. Dr. Josip Atalic from the Faculty of Civil Engineering in Zagreb. Over more recent days, recent earthquake risk research for the European Union, which scientists have been working on for the last four years, has been presented. Back during the 20th century, earthquakes tragically claimed about 200,000 lives across Europe.

''This is a shocking fact, so risk assessments are very important. We're currently working on seismic risk for the City of Zagreb, and when we're done, it will be a new step towards better estimates that depend on the quality of data and maps which are as accurate as possible. This is a pilot project for the whole of Croatia,'' Atalic explained.

The EU co-financed project should be completed in two years, and the Croatian earthquake risk, which is already uncomfortably high, will continue being established.

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

Tuesday, 19 April 2022

Zagreb Mayor Supports Minister's 5-Point Plan to Step Up Post-Quake Reconstruction

ZAGREB, 19 April 2022 - Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević said on Tuesday that he supported a five-point plan to step up the post-earthquake reconstruction, presented by the new Construction Minister, Ivan Paladina, on 14 April.

"We welcome these five points because they are in substance what we have been advocating since we came to power (in the City of Zagreb)," said the mayor.

Tomašević declined to comment on media reports on the previous career and the declaration of assets of Minister Paladina and on the media questioning if Paladina was a good choice for this position.

"I have never delved into personnel choices," said the mayor.

Commenting on the city authorities' insistence on the reconstruction of private houses and property, Tomašević said he could not see any reason why substitute family houses can be built in the quake-hit Banovina region and not in Zagreb.

Deputy Mayor Luka Korlaet said he wanted to believe that Paladina had the competencies for the ministerial position he now held.

Korlaet said that a bottleneck in the post-quake reconstruction process is partly in the construction ministry and partly in public procurement advertised by the Reconstruction Fund.

Some 70 buildings are undergoing reconstruction which they are are conducting on their own, he added.

Tomašević informed the press that the city authorities had been provided with HRK 7.5 million (€1 million) in grants to set up 1.4 megawatt solar panels on public institutions as support under a Norwegian financial mechanism.

Sunday, 10 April 2022

Days of Architects Hears How Central Zagreb Lost Out Post-Earthquake

April the 10th, 2022 - Two entire years since the earthquake which rocked us here in the capital have passed, and Central Zagreb is now home to fewer and fewer residents. This topic, among others, was discussed at the Days of Architects, which has been taking place down in Dubrovnik.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes, the city and its people has been the central theme of the sixth Days of Architects, which opened on Thursday in Dubrovnik, organised by the Croatian Chamber of Architects. The opening was held at the Akademis student dormitory, for which architects Tin Sven Franic, Ana Martincic Varesko and Vanja Rister were awarded the Vladimir Nazor and Viktor Kovacic awards.

The President of the Croatian Chamber of Architects, Rajka Bunjevac, pointed out that architects should be open to the spaces in which they work, but also to the people for whom they're designing. Along with the unenviable urban situation in which most Croatian cities find themselves, we are now in yet another unenviable situation. The European Union urgently needs to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels imported from Russia.

Thanks to its natural potential, Croatia has opportunities for the much greater use of its solar energy for energy production.

"Croatia needs measures that aren't just there to fight fire, subsidising the price of energy that the government is implementing can't last long. A very uncertain autumn and winter await us and it's high time for substantial and structural changes. Architects know what their jobs are, they know how important it is to respect the given framework of space, how important green infrastructure is to each individual neighbourhood, but politics is the place from which all of this starts. An individual can contribute to change, but without politics, things for the profession become frustrating. It's a terrible thought that a project like the student dormitory in Dubrovnik has been running for fifteen years and that the Public Procurement Act has been amended twice during that time - making any innovative ideas more difficult and slow. It's the same thing today with renewable energy sources and energy efficiency,'' said Domac.

He added that significant funds are being spent on subsidising increased energy prices, but noted that this will not bring greater resilience to future high energy prices and their sudden changes. That is why the team from REGEA is developing new concepts for family homes, public buildings and residential apartment buildings with which they will appear before all key decision makers. 

''Croatian buildings urgently need to start producing energy and at the same time be much more energy efficient. We must be ready for the coming winter. At the moment, we don't have a vision of how we're going to deal with one-time incentives, weekly price changes, masks and covid measures and government reshuffles,'' said Domac, adding that not enough is being said about energy saving and energy efficiency measures that can help people here and now. It's well known that a reduction in room temperature of 1oC reduces the consumption of natural gas by 7-8 percent, and buildings account for a total of 40 percent of energy consumption. In such conditions, solar power plants must become an obligation down on the coast, as must centralised heat production in continental Croatia. Individual gas heating must become a thing of the past, for safety, economic and climatic reasons,'' pointed out the head of REGEA.

Cities across the nation are continually struggling with construction disorder and a lack of urbanism, especially Central Zagreb whose heart has lost 50 percent of its resident families, Sisak and Petrinja which are still looking for a complete solution, the gas situation regarding Russia and the climate change we are witnessing.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 22 March 2022

Minister: Integral Plan to Be Presented, Reconstruction to Be Stepped Up in Mid-April

ZAGREB, 22 March 2022 - Physical Planning, Construction and State Assets Minister Ivan Paladina said on Tuesday that an integral plan for reconstruction after the March 2020 earthquake in Zagreb and ways to step it up would be presented in mid-April.

"The plan will include concrete steps, a clear dynamic of the reconstruction process over the next 12 months and in the period after that. I believe that by stepping up current processes we will manage to open several hundred construction sites by the end of the summer," the minister said.

As for Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević's statement that there was no more time to wait and that reconstruction had to start, Paladina said that reconstruction was a joint effort and that after disasters like earthquakes, reconstruction "lasts five, six or many more years."

A reporter remarked that the profession had identified slow state administration as the main cause of the slow reconstruction process, to which Paladina said that they were working on that problem, as well as thinking about how to facilitate the process of public procurement.

As for non-structural reconstruction in Zagreb, the minister said that work on the first buildings would start relatively soon, in a month or two.

"There are some 30 apartment buildings in downtown Zagreb and tenders for reconstruction work on them will be published very soon," Paladina said.

He said that applications would soon be invited for the post of director of the Reconstruction Fund, calling on all candidates who meet the employment terms to apply, adding that he did not believe the selection process would additionally slow down the reconstruction process.

The minister also said that he would soon propose that the government should continue paying rent for people who had to move out of their properties damaged in the earthquake.

Tuesday, 22 March 2022

Jandroković: Post-Earthquake Reconstruction is Priority, Must Be Accelerated

ZAGREB, 22 March 2022 - Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković said on Tuesday, the second anniversary since a 5.5 magnitude earthquake struck Zagreb and the surrounding area, that reconstruction was a priority and needed to be accelerated, adding that there were great expectations from the new Construction Minister Ivan Paladina.  

"The new minister has the task to speed up reconstruction, use all available funds from the Solidarity Fund and move the people who are now living in containers to their homes as soon as possible. That's a priority," Jandroković told a press conference after a meeting of the Parliament Presidency.

"Reconstruction is very important. There are great expectations from the new minister, he is facing great challenges, and I hope he will be successful. The reconstruction process must certainly be faster than it has been," he added without wanting to point the finger at those responsible for the slow pace of reconstruction.

He said it was not true that nothing had been done in the last two years because a certain number of houses had been repaired and the process of seismic retrofitting was about to begin.

"We want this to be done as soon as possible. The deadline for the use of funding from the Solidarity Fund is June next year and I expect all the money will be spent by then. I also expect that the majority, if not all of the people now living in containers will be relocated to their homes by the end of the year," Jandroković said.

Tuesday, 22 March 2022

Zagreb Mayor Calls on Government to Say What More City Can Do to Help It in Reconstruction

ZAGREB, 22 March 2022 - Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević said on Tuesday, on the second anniversary of the 2020 earthquake, that the city administration was very unhappy with the reconstruction of private buildings, of which the state was in charge, calling on the state to say what more the city can do to help it in the process.

"It is a duty for the city to help in the process but we must also say that our patience, as well as the patience of Zagreb residents, is wearing thin. Let them say what else we can do to help, and we will help," Tomašević said at a regular press conference.

On the second anniversary of the 22 March 2020 earthquake in Zagreb, with no private buildings or houses having been reconstructed, the mayor said that he was "extremely unhappy".

He recalled that the city had set aside HRK 160 million for reconstruction this year.

That is a 20% share with which, under the law, the city is obliged to co-finance the reconstruction of private houses and residential buildings, and the money has still not been touched because the city is waiting for the completion of processes of which the state is in charge, Tomašević said.

Asked where the problem was and who was responsible for the reconstruction of private buildings not having started yet, the mayor said that under the law, it was clear that the reconstruction of private buildings was in the remit of the state - the construction ministry and the reconstruction fund.

In a message to the state authorities, Tomašević said that if the legislative framework was still not good, it should be changed again.

"If the law is not good, change it again. If the reconstruction programme is not good, let it be changed," he said.

If the problem in the reconstruction process is the lack of construction companies, one should publish international tenders, he said.

Asked if there was a forecast as to how many private houses and buildings in Zagreb should be reconstructed by the end of the year, the mayor said that the HRK 160 million contribution from the city had been agreed with the Construction Ministry.

"We set aside the 160 million... because we expected that it was our contribution to some HRK 800 million for the reconstruction of private buildings, which should have been launched and the funds spent by the end of the year," he said.

The city has already invested HRK 250 million into the reconstruction of public buildings, and that money will be reimbursed from the EU Solidarity Fund. Temporary accommodation has been secured for people who after the earthquake were accommodated in housing containers and the Arena Hostel, and the city has reassigned its employees to the ministry and the fund to help step up the procedures, Tomašević said, citing what the city has done so far to facilitate the reconstruction process.

He added that the city had also allocated HRK 41.8 million in aid for citizens whose properties were damaged in the earthquake.

Tuesday, 22 March 2022

Architects Call for Transparent, Implementable Post-Quake Reconstruction

ZAGREB, 22 March 2022 - The Croatian Chamber of Architects on Tuesday called for a transparent and implementable reconstruction programme to organise reconstruction according to spatial units and coordinate non-structural reconstruction and seismic retrofitting as well as the construction of new buildings.

The reconstruction of buildings should be a result of plans for the urban renovation of neighbourhoods, which would contribute to the betterment of society and space as a whole, the association, which goes by the acronym HKA, said in a statement on the occasion of the second anniversary of the March 2020 5.5-strong earthquake in Zagreb.

Architects believe that new buildings should be built based on the best architectural designs so that they are in line with spatial planning documentation, architectural conditions and the way of life in individual regions.

The Reconstruction Act should enable project documentation to be made in line with the Construction Act, based on which citizens will claim the right to have their reconstruction costs refunded.

The HKA called for enabling the design of complete building reconstruction, improving basic requirements for buildings, and conducting reconstruction in stages, depending on available funds.

As always, architects will make their expertise available to all stakeholders in the reconstruction process, and they want to be involved so that the processes launched are better, faster and more effective, the chamber said.

We want our living space to be modern, orderly and planned, and our heritage to be improved with new purposes, protected and safe, the architects said, noting that post-earthquake reconstruction should mark the process of a major economic, demographic and urban transformation of the country.

The devastating earthquakes that hit Croatia in the past two years have raised awareness of the poor state of the housing stock and the worrying economic and sociological situation in the parts of the country that have been neglected for decades, the HKA said.

The poor state of buildings, both housing and public, the poor state of infrastructure, low population density, the unsustainable network of settlements and demographic problems are just some of the characteristics of not only rural but urban parts of the country as well, it said.

Unfortunately, two years since the earthquake, we are witnessing an unsatisfactory dynamic of the reconstruction process as well as unsatisfactory quality of reconstruction work in all areas, the architects say.

This is due to a poor legislative framework that focuses exclusively on the seismic retrofitting of buildings instead of on integral solutions for the reconstruction of spatial units and individual buildings, the HKA says.

Tuesday, 22 March 2022

2nd Anniversary of Zagreb Quake Marked in Anticipation of Full-Scale Reconstruction

ZAGREB, 22 March 2022 - Croatia on Tuesday marked the second anniversary of the devastating 5.5-strong earthquake that hit the capital city of Zagreb and northwestern parts of the country at 0624 hours on 22 March 2020 and killed a 15-year-old girl, while 27 people were injured.

The natural disaster caused extensive damage estimated at HRK 86.4 billion (€11.5 billion).

Croatia was granted €683.7 million for earthquake relief according to the provisions of the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF).

As many as 25,0000 properties were destroyed or severely damaged, including buildings housing hospital and schools in the city centre as well as Government House and Parliament Hall.

Although some headway has been made in the post-quake reconstruction, residents in the quake-affected areas and the general public are eagerly waiting for the reconstruction to be in full swing.

The Reconstruction Fund explains that that public procurement procedures and designing had taken more than than initially planned.

This spring, the reconstruction and retrofitting of over 120 blocks of flats and family homes are scheduled to start.

Also the repairs that do not include seismic retrofitting are to be done to roughly 500 residential buildings this year.

Furthermore the authorities have recently started disbursing the compensation to the owners who have already rebuilt their quake-damaged properties on their own initiative.

Majority of school buildings reconstructed

So far, most of the school buildings affected by the tremor have already been reconstructed.

The Medical School has been awarded HRK 377 million for the rebuilding and upgrade of its five buildings.

Also, the Croatian Parliament's building has been awarded HRK 87.6 million for its post-quake reconstruction.

€266m contracts inked for Zagreb health institutions' post-quake reconstruction

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  earthquake, according to the data provided recently by the Health Ministry.

€466m for renovation of historical and cultural landmarks, places of worship

The ministry of culture and media has reported that the contracts have been concluded on the reconstruction of 149 projects concerning listed building housing museums, churches and other important institutions, and HRK 3.5 billion has been put at the disposal by the Solidarity Fund for this purpose.

Year-long extension of deadline for using EU quake relief

Croatia will be able to use the relief granted from the EU Solidarity Fund (EUSF) for earthquake reconstruction in Zagreb until June 2023, which has been adjusted to the period for the use of the allocation for the 6.4-strong earthquake that hit the area of Banovina in Sisak Moslavina County on 29 December 2020 and progressive damage caused.

(€1 = HRK 7.5)

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