Peljesac Bridge fulfills wishes of Croatian civil engineer's late father
This photo taken on Aug. 29, 2023 shows the Peljesac Bridge in Komarna, Croatia. (Xinhua/Li Xuejun)
The 2.4-km-long bridge, the largest infrastructure project in Croatia, has been hailed as an example project of the BRI, which envisions trade and infrastructure networks connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient Silk Road routes.
ZAGREB, Sept. 11 (Xinhua) -- Selma Knudsen, a Croatian civil engineer, said she feels proud to be a member of the Peljesac Bridge construction team. The bridge, a project of China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), was opened for traffic on July 26 last year. The bridge, she said, fulfills her late father's wishes to build a bridge over the Mali Ston Bay connecting Komarna on the Croatian mainland with Brijesta on the Peljesac Peninsula.
When the Peljesac Bridge project started in 2018, Knudsen, who had been working in Norway with several multinational companies, decided to return to Croatia and apply for a job at the project as the project and the village of Komarna "have a special place in my heart," she told Xinhua.
"It is a personal story," Knudsen said, adding that her father, who was also a civil engineer, and his friends discovered Komarna when they built the first houses there in the 1960s and since then her family members have often spent their summers in Komarna on the picturesque Mali Ston Bay.
"I remember my father talking with other people about building a bridge over the bay. Unfortunately, he passed away before a bridge was built, but I am thankful that I had the opportunity to work on the project that was a dream come true for my father and for many people in Croatia," she said.
People take photos near the Peljesac Bridge in Komarna, Croatia, July 27, 2022. (Igor Kralj/PIXSELL via Xinhua)
Constructed by a Chinese consortium led by the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), the 2.4-km-long bridge, the largest infrastructure project in Croatia, has been hailed as an example project of the BRI, which envisions trade and infrastructure networks connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient Silk Road routes.
Knudsen, who used to work as a commercial coordinator at the Peljesac Bridge project when she was in charge of purchasing materials, working on contracts with subcontractors, etc., said she gained a lot from the experience.
"There are no words that can explain the benefits I got from this work. This is the crown of my career, and I am always very emotional when I talk about the bridge," she said, adding that although she worked on some other big projects in Europe, none of them could compare with the Peljesac Bridge project in her home country.
"This bridge is the project of my life. I am so proud of my work there. It is an honor to be a part of this project," she said.
Knudsen recalled that when working at the Peljesac Bridge, she forged a deep friendship with her Chinese colleagues and they once visited Split, Makarska and other cities in southern Croatia together. They held parties, played games and sang together happily.
What impressed her most was that she got a present for her birthday each year from the Chinese management team, and Chinese workers taught her how to cook Chinese food. "Hot pot is my favorite," she said.
Knudsen hailed the hard work of her Chinese colleagues, who used to work three shifts a day and completed the project on schedule in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"They did an extraordinary job there. They have amazing work ethics," she said, noting that despite the COVID-19 pandemic that plagued Croatia in the middle of the project, work on the Peljesac Bridge continued almost undisturbed amid strict anti-pandemic measures and the project was eventually completed on schedule.
In the eyes of Knudsen, the bridge has brought many benefits to Croatians, as it greatly shortens the travel time to Dubrovnik and other cities in southern Croatia, promotes local transportation and tourism and boosts economic development.
Fireworks are seen during the inauguration ceremony of the Peljesac Bridge in Komarna, Croatia, July 26, 2022. (Xinhua/Li Xuejun)
Life in Komarna and the surrounding areas used to be inanimate and spiritless during the cold winter days and there are few people there in winter, but life there now is active even in winter because of the Peljesac Bridge.
"That is a great benefit of the bridge. Thanks to the bridge, benefits will be bigger and bigger in the future," she said.
Although Knudsen's happy with her current job in Zagreb, she said she missed the days when she worked on the project. "I would love to work again with CRBC, as we were a great team," she said.