Post Earthquake Zagreb Restoration to Take Ten Years?

Lauren Simmonds

As Novac/Vedran Marjanovic writes on the 2nd of October, 2020, the Zagreb restoration, which includes not only the city but also buildings in the surrounding area could take ten years, and one of the ‘bottlenecks’ of the Zagreb restoration project could be the role of conservator, said the president of the Croatian Chamber of Civil Engineers, Nina Drazin Lovrec.

”In Zagreb,there are 6000 damaged buildings in the upper and lower city (gornji and donji grad), which means that the role of conservator will be necessary. On the other hand, we currently have only 187 certified civil engineers for conservation work. In addition, a survey we recently conducted within the Chamber among 1,500 of our members in Zagreb and surrounding counties showed that only about 400 of them are ready to get involved in the Zagreb restoration and that of the city’s surroundings,” warned the president of HKIG at the Chamber’s round table on the Zagreb restoration in which, among others, the Minister of Physical Planning, Construction and State Property Darko Horvat, associate professor at the Faculty of Civil Engineering Josip Atalic and expert in building statics Kresimir Tarnik took part.

Minister Horvat expressed his belief that the course of the Zagreb restoration will go smoothly in the chain from the ‘snapshot’ of the situation through the preparation of project documentation for reconstruction to the preparation of cost estimates and ordering the work itself to be carried out.

”The fear of slowing down the Zagreb restoration process lies in the resolving of property-legal relations and the ownership status of buildings as a whole. When we talk about financing the renovation in the part borne by the owners of the buildings, the state is ready to help through HBOR and other ways of lending,” said Horvat.

The Minister warned that the state would once again bear the main burden of the Zagreb restoration, but that, he pointed out, this should finally be clear to everyone in Croatia that ownership is not only a right and benefit but also a responsibility.

”We’re working on a bill that will regulate the issue of building maintenance and the responsibility of owners for it,” announced Horvat, noting that the state will continue to encourage the energy renovation of buildings and lending to young families through subsidies for housing loans.

Josip Atalic estimated that the competent ministry, as the holder of the project for the reconstruction of the buildings damaged by the Zagreb earthquake, will face numerous difficulties, confirming that ownership relations are one of the obstacles to a quick and quality reconstruction.

”I wouldn’t like to be in the shoes of Minister Horvat at all, especially when I know what’s happening on the ground and how high the expectations of people are from the reconstruction. Many, for example, will probably not be satisfied with the quality of the reconstruction,” Atalic commented, noting that one of the problems in this regard could be the fact that there are about 100,000 requests in Zagreb for the legalisation of illegally built or upgraded property, among which, he added, there are many buildings which were themselves damaged in the earthquake.

Referring to the frequent assessments that a significant number of buildings were damaged in the earthquake because they weren’t well maintained, Atalic noted that the earthquake also damaged buildings that underwent energy renovation.

Some participants in the HKIG meeting expressed confidence that the reconstruction of the quake-affected areas could take five years, but with the caveat that everything will depend on the preparation of project documentation, the length of public tenders and the availability of companies and workers for commissioned work. It is much more likely that the stumbling blocks along the way will make the process take far longer, perhaps an additional five years more.

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