Project More Valuable than Peljesac Bridge: Turks Building New Railway

Lauren Simmonds

When you think of projects in Croatia which carry enormous value, you more than likely think no further than the mammoth task of constructing the long awaited Peljesac bridge down in Dalmatia, which will work to connect the extreme south of Dalmatia to the rest of the country without having to cross the border into and then back out of Neum, Bosnia and Herzegovina. But while the bridge is a strategic project for both the state and for the EU, that isn’t all that’s going on…

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 2nd of August, 2020, there is one infrastructure project going on on Croatian land which is even more valuable than the huge sum Peljesac bridge implies.

The Turks will soon ”set up camp” near the continental Croatian town of Krizevci, following a decision made at the City Council level to lease some construction land in the Gornji Čret economic zone to Cengiz Insaat Sanayi ve Ticaret A.S.

Back in May this year, the aforementioned company began constructing (and rebuilding) a railway from Križevci to Koprivnica and then on towards the Croatian border with Hungary (individually, it represents the largest infrastructure project in all of Croatia, worth 2.41 billion kuna without VAT, with 85% of that figure funded by the EU), and for such a capital multi-year project, space to accommodate contractors is needed.

In the ”game” for the location of the workers’ camp, Lepavina, Vojakovački Kloštar and the Križevci zone were all mentioned, the latter of which proved to be the final and best choice. The Turks applied to the city administration’s tender for the lease, after sending a letter of intent. It is a plot covering about sixteen hectares in the eastern part of the zone, which has been leased for five years. As the investor, Cengiz undertakes the responsibility “of preparing the project documentation, obtaining the [necessary] permits and building all of the transport and utility infrastructure for the construction of a base for the accommodation of the workers on the construction of the railway,” according to the notice from the city administration.

The camp would house about 400 workers in more than 100 prefabricated houses. However, Cengiz will not pay the rent with money (in the sense of a monthly starting price of 0.25 kn / m2 + VAT), but after the expiration of the contract, the road, gas, water and other facilities will be handed over to the owner of the land – the City.

This was the trigger for the reactions among the local opposition, which resents the fact that instead of building production halls, the zones are rented out for these camps and that the rental price isn’t clearly defined. Mayor Mario Rajn retorts that the City of Križevci will save around 4.5 million kuna, which would otherwise be the cost of the very project.

“The complete works will be done by the investor. If the City had gone to build so much infrastructure and leased out the land, we’d have had a deficit of about 1.8 million kuna because we’d have earned only 2.7 million,” points out Rajn.

Otherwise, Cengiz, the Turkish company responsible for the undertaking of this not quite larger than life but certainly ”larger than Peljesac bridge” project, has annual revenues of over a billion US dollars. It has built, among other things, a new large airport in Istanbul, and it is working on the second pipe of the tunnel between Slovenia and Austria.

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