MPs back Coastal Shipping Bill

Photo: Ivo Cagalj/Pixsell

ZAGREB, 26 January 2022 – MPs from both the ruling majority and the opposition backed the final draft law on regular and occasional coastal shipping on Wednesday, stressing the importance of transport links between the islands and the continent for the improvement of living conditions and economic development.

Presenting the bill to parliament, Secretary of State for the Ministry of Sea, Transport and Infrastructure, Josip Bilaver, said the aim of the law was to permanently connect the islands to the mainland and the inhabited islands between them, thus in order to increase the existing roads and introduce new ones for better mobility, faster transport, balanced development of the counties and better living conditions on the islands.

He said the new law, among other things, regulates the issue of privilege and free transportation and provides for free transportation of firefighters and their vehicles, including professional firefighters and volunteer firefighters.

“I think the law will contribute to more frequent lines and better service, especially for islanders,” Bilaver said.

Marijana Puljak announced that she would support the bill on behalf of the parliamentary group of the Center and GLAS parties, saying transport was of vital importance to residents for economic development, improving living conditions and work on the islands.

Marina Opačak Bilić (Social Democratic Group) agrees, pointing out that without good connectivity, which must exist throughout the year, island populations would decline. She also asked if the residents of Pelješac would lose their existing boat lines due to the construction of the bridge.

Urša Raukar Gamulin (Greens-Left Bloc) thinks the law may be even more important for islanders than the Islands Law because, she said, it is crucial in preventing people from leaving and make life on the island easier.

Noting that the law is another step towards better island transport connectivity, Branko Bačić (HDZ) said that there are 51 state lines (ferries, boats and speedboats) and maritime transport concerns about 14 million passengers and 3.5 million vehicles.

He also said that the state allocates about HRK 315 million per year for maritime transport from the budget.

Recalling that the national passenger transport company Jadrolinija celebrated its 70th anniversary this year, Bačić said that it had taken a big step forward in the past 15 years in acquiring better and faster ships and rejuvenating of the fleet. Moreover, in addition to Jadrolinija, private shipowners have turned to transport by speedboats and the purchase of catamarans, which has further improved the connectivity of the islands, he said.

Bačić said that although he got a bridge, Pelješac should remain an island because if Pag, Krk, Murter and Čiovo were islands he saw no reason why Pelješac wouldn’t be one.

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