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REGIONAL REPORTTHE BALKANS


Fesco Transportation Group delivered steam reforming equipment from the port of Constanta in Romania to the Afipsky oil refinery in Russia.


bankrupt rapidly, but again their fortunes can be transformed if outside interests take them over and revive them. One major scheme has just started,


although it also serves to illustrate the fractured nature of the Balkans. The 2 km Pelješac bridge, on the coast


northwest of Dubrovnik, will link the peninsula of the same name with the mainland at Komarna. There is a reasonable road along this


stretch of coastline, but it is at a point where a piece of Bosnia and Herzegovina juts out in between two pieces of Croatian territory.


Border crossings To drive between the two sections of Croatia means crossing two borders and, also, to leave EU member Croatia and enter non- EU Bosnia and Herzegovina. Work on the bridge began in 2008 but the


project became mired in political controversy and then fell victim to the global financial crisis, which brought construction to a halt in 2012. However, works restarted in July 2018,


this time under the auspices of China Road and Bridge Corporation, which replaced the local consortium that had started work on the original project. R&B Global Projects is not yet involved


in this particular project (although it hopes to be part of the transport operation soon) but there are signs that the market is picking up throughout the region, said Roosen. He added: “Serbia is a good market, and


Croatia also. Montenegro is climbing and Albania is slowly improving. Slovenia, too,


www.heavyliftpfi.com


Generally in the country [Croatia], there is a huge shortage of modern crane capacity. This means having to charter geared ships for heavier cargoes. – Dave Roosen, R&B Global Projects


has always been a strong market for us.” However, port performance in the region


is quite patchy. Rijeka remains Croatia’s main port and while its container terminal continues to operate well, breakbulk operations remain difficult. Generally in the country, there is “a huge


shortage” of modern crane capacity, said Roosen. This means having to charter geared ships to handle heavier cargoes. Because of the difficulties in dealing with Rijeka, many ship operators prefer to deviate


to ports in southern Croatia such as Zadar or Split, or Koper in Slovenia, where conditions are much easier.


Swift permitting This has certainly been the case for the wind farm projects that have been started in the country. It may sometimes mean moving more distance by road within the Balkans, but this is rarely a problem in a region where permits for oversized loads are actually much easier to obtain than in northwest Europe, said Roosen. Waiting time for a permit is currently no


more than two or three weeks, although recent changes to local legislation may change the situation. Roosen added that, surprisingly perhaps


considering recent history, Customs clearance across the region’s land borders is rarely difficult, although getting to and from the EU is another matter. The main limitations are the dimensions


of road tunnels and mountain passes, although here again in Serbia there is a solution in the Danube River. The infrastructure here was developed as a means of getting military equipment quickly around what was then Yugoslavia. There has been a trend towards the use


of local and inland ports in the region and away from long road journeys from other parts of Europe – truck driver shortages and increased operating costs have driven up the price of road haulage services. Shipping is another possibility as many,


though not all, cities lie on the coast and shipping is certainly a very viable means of


May/June 2019 79


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