After meeting on Thursday with Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and his cabinet for the first time since taking over as Mayor of Zagreb, Tomislav Tomasevic said that he expected a new era of cooperation between the city and the government, adding that nobody can be satisfied with the rate of post-quake reconstruction in the city.
Tomasevic and Plenkovic met to discuss city finances, as well as cooperation between the government and the city authorities following the massive March 22 2020 earthquake.
Finance Minister Zdravko Maric, Construction Minister Darko Horvat and Zagreb Deputy Mayors Danijela Dolenec and Luka Korlaet also participated in the hour-long meeting.
Post-earthquake reconstruction was the main topic of the talks. On Thursday, the first house irreparably damaged in the March 2020 earthquake was demolished, 15 months after the city was struck by the devastating quake.
“We are glad that the demolition of damaged buildings is finally starting. Today three are being demolished, and more will follow in the days to come,” said Tomasevic.
Admitting that nobody can be satisfied with the rate of reconstruction, he said that the City of Zagreb would from now on be a “proper partner” so that the process may be accelerated, particularly with regard to filling out application forms for reconstructing apartment buildings.
Horvat and Tomasevic announced that they would conduct a working meeting on Tuesday to discuss handling construction waste material as temporary landfills are full, as well as ways to accelerate reconstruction.
Decisions on reconstruction will be based on expertise alone
“Bulldozers are positioned at three locations in Zagreb and buildings are being demolished,” Minister Horvat said and added that the ministry had so far sent 36 decisions for demolition to the Reconstruction Fund and that another 18 decisions would be forwarded this week.
Responding to accusations by the fund’s director, Damir Vandjelic, that the ministry was a bottleneck in making decisions related to reconstruction, Horvat said that the problem was no longer the ministry but the Fund itself.
“(Vandjelic) received the first decisions for demolition on April 20 and he managed to arrange the first works on June 10. We are no longer talking about expediting the adoption of decisions but about the implementation of public procurement for bulldozers to appear in the field. That isn’t a job for the ministry but for the fund’s director,” said Horvat.
He added that he would insist on the current reconstruction model and on decisions that were not political but based on expertise.
By the end of the month, the fund will have on the desk some 60 decisions for demolition of the 169 that were received by the ministry. As for the remaining applications, the relevant documentation is being collected and property-rights relations are being dealt with, he added.
He stressed that 3,800 applications for reconstruction that had been submitted in Zagreb had still not been resolved because they involved buildings that did not have legal building permits.
Tomasevic stressed that city authorities would contribute to expediting the process of reconstruction by helping citizens complete application forms and conducting quick inspections for damage carried out on the remaining buildings that had not undergone such inspections.