When we talk about investments in transport, another year has passed under the sign of the highway. However, last year the priority section Smokovac – Mateševo, which was under construction for seven years, was finally put into traffic. Now we have a new “trouble” – we need to continue with the construction of the remaining sections.
Despite the opening of the highway, the traffic infrastructure remained the main problem of Montenegro. Crowds on the Montenegrin coast during the season reminded us once again that the Adriatic-Ionian highway, bypasses and expressways along the coast are still only in theory. In practice, we are still waiting for the long-announced reconstruction of the boulevard from Jaz to Tivat to begin. The realization of this investment, as we recently heard from the Minister of Capital Investments, Ervin Ibrahimović, could start this year. We’ll see.
It’s not just our roads that are in bad shape. Although Montenegro is thinking about “activating at least one more airport”, we cannot boast that the two we have are in the best condition, especially the one in Tivat. As we heard recently, tens of millions of euros are needed for its reconstruction alone, and the state does not have that money. The option to give the Airports under concession is still in play, however, that decision will await the stabilization of the political situation in the country.
In the previous period, the Government of Montenegro bought the shares of the minority shareholders of Port of Bar on several occasions, and plans to return the Port of Adria company to state ownership. As they stated, they have “a great ambition to make the unified Port of Bar a generator of economic development that will change the whole of Montenegro”. And a precondition for the successful development and valorization of the Port’s potential is the railway infrastructure.
The budget for this year allocated 14 million EUR for the development of railway infrastructure. As announced, the plan is to buy three trains, and work will also be done on the overhaul of the tracks. Also, with the aim of faster border crossing and unhindered passage of people and goods, a joint railway station of Montenegro and Serbia is being built in Bijelo Polje.
It remains to be seen how the further development of the traffic infrastructure in Montenegro will proceed. We will take a look at the investments that have been announced, realized or talked about in 2022.
Bar – Boljare highway
After more than seven years of construction and several extensions of deadlines, the priority section of the highway from Smokovac to Mateševo was officially opened on July 13, on Montenegro’s Statehood Day, while the first cars passed through it a day later. As it was proposed at the time, this section was named Princess Ksenija.
By the end of the year, more than one million vehicles passed through the highway, and as announced in early December by Monteput, which manages the priority section, more than EUR 4.5 million in revenue was generated. That, as we have often heard, is sufficient proof of how much Montenegro needed this road. Now the question of continuing the construction of the remaining sections is raised, and as announced by the Ministry of Capital Investments in December, an additional 6 million EUR was provided for the realization of this project.
When it comes to the continuation of construction, a possible concession with Serbia was also mentioned, and in the justification study of the Bar – Boljare highway it was stated that the construction of the remaining four sections of the highway is feasible and economically profitable, if there is no drop in the expected traffic or an increase in the predicted costs. The construction costs are estimated at EUR 1.29 billion, while the tender can be expected in 2024 or 2025.
The Minister of Capital Investments, Ervin Ibrahimović, said recently that there is great interest from investors in the construction of the remaining sections, that EUR 6 million has been provided for the development of the main project, and that the start of the works can be expected by 2025 at the latest. He also stated that there is an initiative to work at once all shares, in order to merge with Serbia as soon as possible.
Reconstruction of the highway Kolašin-Mateševo
In July of last year, a tender worth EUR 6.4 million was announced for the reconstruction of the main road Kolašin – Mateševo. The Traffic Administration said that only one bid was received for the public invitation, however, they did not reveal which company it was.
As announced in November by the Government, the contract for the reconstruction of the road in the length of approximately 9 km was signed with the company Bemax. As they stated at the time, this reconstruction will increase the safety of all traffic participants and at the same time create more favorable and easier conditions for communication between Kolašin and the Princess Ksenija highway.
The story of the realization of this investment from 2021 spilled over into the next year, 2022. However, even in this period, the project was only talked about, there were no concrete steps. As we heard in October, the companies Bechtel and Enka are still interested in the construction of this road, which was announced by the former Minister of Finance Milojko Spajić.
However, just a few days later, we heard that the European Commission (EC) canceled an investment grant of EUR 41.2 million, because the works on the conceptual project on the section of the Budva bypass of the Adriatic-Ionian expressway were proceeding very slowly.
In the report of the European Commission on Montenegro, it was stated that the works were hampered by the Montenegrin legislation regarding the requirements for the conceptual design of complex infrastructure, which leads to excessive design costs and causes delays. They announced the possibility of reapplying if the maturity of the project is reached.
Boulevard Podgorica – Danilovgrad
Another important road was opened last year, the boulevard from Podgorica to Danilovgrad. The length of the road is 15 kilometers, and it was put into traffic after two years of work. The value of the investment is EUR 24.5 million, and the investor is the Traffic Administration.
A few months after the opening, information arrived that no one was maintaining this road, and then the Traffic Administration said that the procedure for technical acceptance of the works was in progress, and that after obtaining a use permit, in accordance with the provisions of the Roads Act, the road and associated facilities will be handed over for maintenance to the company that concluded a contract with the Traffic Administration on regular maintenance of main and regional roads.
Bypass around Herceg Novi
The bypass around Herceg Novi is an important project not only for that city, but for the entire coast. As said at the beginning of last year, the then Acting director of the Capital Projects Administration Boro Lučić, a feasibility study will be conducted for the bypass and the underwater tunnel project between Zelenika and Luštica.
A few days later, a tender was announced for the preparation of the conceptual solution and the main design of the ring road, for which more than half a million euros were allocated. Also, a public call for its revision was published.
The President of Herceg Novi Municipality, Stevan Katic, said at the end of December that EUR 300,000 has been allocated for project documentation for this year. As he stated, it is a multi-year project for which EUR 20 million has been proposed in the following period, and that the project remains to be completed in 2023, in order to call a tender for contractors.
When it comes to Herceg Novi, it is also planned that a high-speed road will pass through that municipality, which is part of a wider initiative that is designated as the Blue Highway at the EU level. The municipality, however, objected to this project, stating that the high-speed road is redundant, because the municipality has foreseen the construction of a bypass above Sušćepan, via Pod to Zelenika. The Council for the revision of the spatial plan concept of Montenegro, however, did not accept those suggestions and remarks.
The railway from Pljevlja to Berane and further to the border
The national railway infrastructure program from 2021 to 2023 envisages the expansion of the railway infrastructure, based on conceptual solutions with a pre-feasibility study. As stated in the document, it is possible to build a branch of the railway Nikšić – Podgorica towards Bileća, as well as the construction of a new railway Pljevlja – Bijelo Polje (Ravna Rijeka) and further towards Berane and the border with the territory of Kosovo.
As later reported by the media from BiH, this railway route was talked about 12 years ago and nothing was done except for the conceptual solution. In the Railways of the RS, they stated that in order to re-start activities on the realization of a 12-year-old idea, it is necessary to provide all the prerequisites at all levels, and proceed with the preparation of pre-investment documentation, project documentation, determine financing methods, as well as obtain all necessary approvals, i.e. fulfill all the necessary prerequisites that accompany such large and significant projects.
Bus station in Herceg Novi
Another project that is talked about a lot, and for which the citizens of Herceg Novi have been waiting for a long time, is the construction of a bus station. At the beginning of last year, a tender was announced for the construction of the access road for the needs of this project, and after numerous announcements, the Municipality of Herceg Novi also announced a call for construction of the building itself in November. The value of the works is estimated at EUR 4.7 million without, or EUR 5.68 million with VAT included.
As we heard at the beginning of this year, this tender was canceled because no offer was received. Then it was announced that the announcement of a new call is expected soon.
Reconstruction of the Nikšić-Vilusi highway
In July, the Traffic Administration announced another valuable tender, namely for the construction of the main road Nikšić – Vilusi. EUR 6.89 million has been allocated for the first phase of the works. An invitation to supervise the works was also announced.
Bridge over Bojana
The Presidents of the Governments of Montenegro and Albania, Dritan Abazović and Edi Rama, presented in June of last year the project of building a bridge over the Bojana River, which will connect Ulcinj with Velipoj.
The value of the project is EUR 9 million, and according to announcements, it could be completed in 2024. The 310-meter-long bridge will shorten the road from Ulcinj Velika plaža to Velipoj from the current 70 to just a few kilometers. The width of the bridge will be 17 meters, it will have two traffic lanes of 3.75 meters each, two sidewalks of two meters each and two bicycle paths of 1.25 meters each. As explained, it will connect 34 km of sandy beaches.
The Ministry of Capital Investments said in September that the construction of the Bojana bridge will not begin before the Spatial Plan (PP) of the state is adopted, because the bridge is counted among infrastructure projects and must be recognized as such in this strategic document.
Reconstruction of the Jaz – Tivat road
In the first half of last year, we heard that the project to reconstruct the Jadranska magistrala on the stretch from Tivat airport to Jaz into a boulevard-type road with four lanes was facing a number of problems and that it was not yet known when the work on the ground would begin. Let us remind you that the construction was supposed to start in the fall of 2021.
At one of the sessions of the Government in September last year, it was announced that EUR 32 million was missing for the realization of this project, and in order to continue the realization of the project, consent was given to provide funds from the capital budget or another form of financing, and to sign a contract with the first-ranked bidder in the tender.
Also, at the end of the year, it was decided that unused funds in the amount of EUR 11.3 million within the capital budget of the Traffic Administration would be redirected to other projects, and the largest part of this amount, 8.8 million to be precise, will be redirected to the reconstruction of the M2 highway, i.e. construction of Tivat – Jaz boulevard. The Minister of Capital Investments, Ervin Ibrahimović, said recently, as we have already mentioned, that we can expect the start of works this year.