President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic (R, front) looks at a map of the Preljina-Pozega section of the new E763 highway at the Village of Pakovrace, Cacak, Serbia, on May 17, 2019. (Xinhua/Nemanja Cabric)
Construction of another vital segment of Serbia’s new E763 highway was started on Friday by the China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) near the city of Cacak in central Serbia.
The ceremony marking the start of work on the over 30-kilometer Preljina-Pozega section of the new highway took place near the village of Pakovrace, some 150 kilometers south of the capital Belgrade.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, government members, CCCC President Song Hailiang, Chinese Ambassador to Serbia Chen Bo, as well as local officials attended the ceremony.
In his speech, Vucic said that several Chinese companies are already at work on the new E763 highway, and that the new section promises to be the most difficult to build as it includes 12 kilometers of tunnels and more than 30 bridges.
The new highway is important for both investors and locals, as it will bring life to the nearby villages and cities, Vucic explained.
He announced that Serbia plans to complete the remaining 107-kilometer stretch of the highway between Pozega and the Montenegrin in partnership with Chinese companies.
Song, the CCCC president, thanked the Serbian government for entrusting his company with this important project and pledged to complete the highway at the highest quality and within the agreed deadlines.
“We hope the E763 will boost the country’s economic development and bring prosperity to the Serbian people for a better future,” he said.
The new section will count among the most important ones along the entire highway corridor, said Zorana Mihajlovic, minister of construction, transport and infrastructure, stressing that it will have an immense effect on the economic development of this part of Serbia.
“I thank China for recognizing how important this highway is for us, in the same way that Serbia recognized the importance of the Belt and Road Initiative and became one of the first countries in the world to embrace this global project,” she said.
The Preljina-Pozega section of the highway will cost 450 million euros (502 million U.S. dollars) and is financed from a loan provided to Serbia by the Export-Import Bank of China.
The new E763 highway will stretch for more than 250 kilometers from Belgrade to the border with Montenegro. According to the government’s plans, the highway will fork at Pozega, and from there a section will lead to the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina.