BYPASSING COVID-19 - WeBalkans | EU Projects in the Western Balkans

BYPASSING COVID-19

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, work on Bosnia and Herzegovina’s new motorway keeps rolling thanks to EU grants, financing from the EU bank—and a refusal to give up

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The people of the Western Balkans know how to keep going, even in troubled times. Still, it’s impressive that, despite the economic and social difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic, construction work on a new transport artery in Bosnia and Herzegovina continues. The work will transform rugged terrain into a modern, sleek highway that will bring benefits to travel times and road safety.

Uninterrupted work on this major regional highway, known as Corridor Vc, has been possible thanks to precautionary measures set up by authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the contractors, who introduced rigorous safety protocols and protective equipment. The health of construction workers is monitored daily and the sites are regularly disinfected. The aim of these efforts is to keep operations going, retain jobs and ensure regular incomes for the people engaged on this project.

“We try to reorganise our work as much as we can and keep going as we would in normal circumstances.”

Faster commuting for 1.5 million people

It’s a daunting task to provide adequate medical safety measures and restrictions and, at the same time, to ensure timely procurement and supply of construction materials and spare parts for machinery. COVID-19 has disrupted supply and production chains globally. EU support has been essential for the Western Balkans, enabling easier circulation of goods within the region and into the EU for all kinds of projects, including the Corridor Vc construction. “We try to reorganise our work as much as we can and keep going as we would in normal circumstances,” says Semir Muslić, site supervisor for one of the contractors working on the Ivan Tunnel.

The significance of this ambitious investment programme is far-reaching. Corridor Vc is one of the most important transport projects in the region, connecting Bosnia and Herzegovina to Hungary, eastern Croatia and the Adriatic Sea. The European Investment Bank (EIB) has invested €631 million in the construction of 102 km of motorway on this corridor.

“The European Investment Bank remains committed to the long-term, sustainable development of Bosnia and Herzegovina.”

 

These funds from the EIB have been matched with more than €200 million in European Union grants, provided under the Connectivity Agenda. These have been channelled through the Western Balkans Investment Framework, a mechanism combining grants with implementing partner financing to support EU enlargement and socio-economic development in the region.

“The European Investment Bank remains committed to the long-term, sustainable development of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and we are proud of our role as one of the major investors in the country’s road infrastructure,” said Matteo Rivellini, head of lending in Croatia, Slovenia and the Western Balkans for the EU bank.

Connecting cities, regions and countries creates a whole new range of opportunities for socio-economic growth, employment and regional trade flows. Modern roads bring increased safety, with lower accident rates and lower vehicle operating costs. 1.5 million people living along Corridor Vc now have access to a new highway that cuts their travel times almost in half.

Safer, faster, more efficient and intelligent transport networks are a prerequisite for creating a more coherent and integrated market in the region, and a necessity for better living conditions for the people of the Western Balkans.

And even the coronavirus won’t stop that.

About the EIB

The European Investment Bank is the lending arm of the European Union. The EIB is the biggest multilateral financial institution in the world and one of the largest providers of climate finance, investing in a sustainable future for all.

Photo credits: European Investment Bank

 

This is an adaptation of an article published by the European Investment Bank. Read the original article