Representatives of BiH Council of Ministers (CoM) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) signed in Banja Luka on Tuesday a grant agreement worth EUR 6.8 million for construction of the border crossing facilities on Banja Luka-Gradiska highway section, cross-border bridge over the Sava River and the motorway connections on the Banja Luka-Gradiska road. The project is part of the Indicative Extension of the TEN-T Core network in the Western Balkans.
Head of the EU Delegation and EU Special Representative in BiH Ambassador Lars-Gunnar Wigemark stressed that improving connectivity within the Western Balkans, as well as between the Western Balkans and the European Union, is essential for growth and jobs. “This investment in Gradiska is an important step towards closer integration of the whole Western Balkans region in line with the new Western Balkans Strategy. The grant from the EU worth EUR 6.8 million will co-finance the construction of the cross-border bridge over the River Sava in Gradiška. This investment will bring the EU closer to BiH,” said Wigemark.
Head of the EIB Slovenia, Croatia and Western Balkans Division Matteo Rivellini stated that the Bank is very pleased to be able to sign the grant agreement, making a significant contribution towards economic growth, trade facilitation and integration of BiH within the Balkans. "Once built, the bridge will shorten travel times, reduce fuel consumption and pollution, and function as by-pass of the city of Gradiska. The Bank has also signed an EUR 47 million loan to complete the ongoing works on the motorway Banja Luka – Doboj", he added.
BiH Minister of Finance and Treasury Vjekoslav Bevanda express gratitude to the representatives of the EU Delegation and the European Investment Bank, in particular Matteo Rivellini and Lars-Gunnar Wigemark and their associates. "This project is an important infrastructure link between BiH and its neighbours. This investment will improve regional cooperation and communication with the European Union”, he underlined.
RS Prime Minister Zeljka Cvijanovic said that numerous meetings with representatives of Croatian authorities were held in past 14 years but there were always certain obstacles. She added that the project has entered its final stage and noted that it would take approximately two years to construct the bridge once Croatia issues the construction permit. Cvijanovic reminded that the total cost of the construction of Gradiska Bridge amounts to EUR 17 million and the cost of the construction of Banja Luka-Doboj motorway amounts to EUR 565 million.