Construction has started on the Banja Luka-Prijedor highway, the first land transport infrastructure project developed by Chinese companies in Europe on a concession basis.
The 40km highway in Republika Srpska, a constituent part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is costing around €300 million (US$46.7 million). It will run from the administrative city of Banja Luka – the largest city with a population of over 200,000 – northeast to Prejidor, with a population of around 90,000.
In 2018, Autoputevi RS, Republika Srpska’s state-owned motorway operator, began talks with China Shandong on the project that has a 25-30 year concession. The motorway, the part of, and the first phase of, what will be the larger 80km-long Banja Luka-Novi Grad motorway. China Shandong will fund construction and then collect tolls as part of repayment, according to media reports.
Construction was to have started more than a year ago but was delayed due to Corona pandemic restrictions.
Meanwhile, last June, Bosnia’s national road agency Autoceste FBiH said it had secured more funds - €869.2 million (US$1.05 billion) - for continued construction of the Corridor 5C motorway project. The agency reported that 92km of Corridor 5C had been completed. The 700km-long European transport Corridor 5c connects the Adriatic port of Ploce in Croatia with Budapest in Hungary via Bosnia which has around 340km of the route.