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China’s CRBC Keen to Build Montenegrin Highway’s Next Stretch

After completing the first 41-km stretch of Bar-Boljare highway, Montenegro’s outgoing government on Wednesday confirmed that China Road and Bridge Corporation, CRBC, is also interested in building the second and third stretches.

Montenegro’s outgoing government on Wednesday confirmed that China Road and Bridge Corporation’s Montenegro Branch is interested in the construction of the Bar Boljare highway’s second and third stretch.

According to a government report published on Wednesday outgoing Finance Minister Aleksandar Damjanovic and CRBC official Hei Shiquiang met on July 3 about potential cooperation on the construction of the second and third phases of the highway.

“The Chinese company recommended that two sections could be built through a private-public partnership model. CRBC has conducted detailed studies, prepared a commercial study, framework conditions, a draft of general conditions, as well as a technical proposal for the next two sections of the highway,” the government report said.

“Funding models through private-public partnerships or otherwise must be carefully considered, taking into account the fact that Montenegro is discussing with different partners, striving to define the most favourable way,” it added.

The Bar-Boljare highway represents the Montenegrin leg of a larger highway that will run from the Adriatic coast to the Serbian capital, Belgrade.

The first 41-kilometer-long phase, which opened last July, was built by CRBC with 85 per cent of the money coming from a $810-million-loan from China’s Exim Bank.

The first phase was due to finish by November 2019. but completion was delayed three times due to technical issues and the COVID-19 pandemic.

On July 20, 2022, the Ministry for Capital Investments said the 23.5-kilometers-long second phase, running from Matesevo to Andrijevica, would likely cost some 552 million euros, adding that it was negotiating with European banks for financing.

But on Wednesday the Ministry’s secretary, Admir Sahmanovic, said those negotiations were now on hold due to political instability in the country.

Early elections in Montenegro were held on May 11 but the country is still awaiting confirmation of the official results and negotiations on forming the new government.

“We launched negotiations with international financial institutions and were on our way to receive 200 million euros in grants and a 300-million-euros credit arrangement at a credit rate of 1 per cent. We sent a lot of urgent requests to the European Commission to somehow speed up that procedure,” Sahmanovic said.

Last September, US construction group Bechtel said it was interested in construction of the highway’s second phase.

In previous years the US company was linked with controversial agreements in the Western Balkans, as their projects were granted without a public tender while the final costs of the construction projects were bigger than the originally planned price.

Source : Balkaninsight