Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic (R, center) visits the construction site of the Peljesac Bridge in Komarna, Croatia, Jan. 31, 2019. (Xinhua/Ivo Cagalj)
Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic expressed satisfaction on Thursday evening with the work on the first phase of the Peljesac Bridge after visiting the construction site run by a Chinese consortium in southern Croatia.
Work on the construction of the Peljesac Bridge is going very well, even better than predicted, Plenkovic said.
"This is the project of great importance for Croatia and it creates a new dimension of cooperation with China. At the same time, a fact that the project is funded from the European Union budget with 357 million euros (410 million U.S. dollars) shows how important is the EU cohesion policy and the EU's help for the project," said the prime minister.
Plenkovic believed that the Peljesac Bridge will permanently remain the symbol of the first seven years of Croatia's membership in the European Union (EU) and a place where everyone will be able to see and recognize how much Croatia has gained from it.
After visiting the site, Minister of Maritime Affairs, Transport, and Infrastructure Oleg Butkovic said the results were already impressive after setting up the first 15 piles.
"Everything goes faster than expected, but there are still plenty of things ahead of us. Croatian Roads will soon decide on the selection of contractors for the second phase of the project that includes the construction of 12 kilometers long access road," Butkovic told reporters.
For the third and fourth phase of this project, tenders have to be submitted by Feb. 14 this year. According to the plan, the bridge and all access roads should be completed at the same time.
A Chinese piling ship arrived at the construction site in Komarna in December last year with two test piles which were built into the bridge's foundation. The first permanent pile was set up on Jan. 20 this year, and a total of 148 piles are expected to be set up.
The Peljesac Bridge is one of the biggest infrastructure projects in Croatia's history. The bridge will connect the Croatian peninsula Peljesac with the Croatian mainland and therefore bypass a short strip of the neighboring Bosnian coast that interrupts the continuity of Croatian territory.
A Chinese consortium led by China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) won the bid for the first phase of the Peljesac Bridge and its access roads in January 2018, with the promise to finish the job in 36 months. Construction officially kicked off in late July.