How Belt and Road is blazing a trail through pandemic | Updated: 2020-12-29 09:23
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The Peljesac Bridge near Komarna is under construction, in Croatia, April 17, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]

BRI projects

The World Bank Group predicted that the global economy will suffer the deepest recession since World War II with a 5.2 percent drop in GDP this year, a figure that highlights the urgent need for the resumption of production.

With strict protective measures, overseas Chinese workers are joining hands with their local colleagues to speed up the construction of landmark projects across the world.

The equipment of China's Norinco for the construction of the Senj Wind Farm, which arrived during the first wave of the COVID-19 outbreak in Europe, had been stranded in Croatia's Zadar Port.

Thanks to the collaboration and hard work of Chinese and Croatian employees, so far, 50 percent of the contract value has been completed, said Liu Zhen, general manager of Norinco's Zagreb branch.

By the end of this year, 13 wind turbines on the farm will be ready for power generation and 39 wind turbines will be up and running by next April.

At Montenegro's Mt Mozura, the wind turbines built by the Shanghai Electric Power Company have started spinning as the country's new highway stretches towards the border with Serbia.

The Peljesac Bridge, a 2.4 km bridge built by the China Road and Bridge Corporation that will connect the Croatian mainland with the Peljesac Peninsula, is expected to be finished next year. It is an iconic infrastructure project funded by the European Union.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has inevitably delayed our project, as the production of steel box girders was halted, while international travel restrictions left us understaffed," said Lu Shengwei, a representative of the Chinese company in Croatia.

To catch up with the schedule, the company even ordered a direct charter flight for its welders.

As the production of the steel box girders resumed in China after the outbreak was under control, the project began to get back on track.

Once completed, the Belgrade-South Adriatic highway built by the company, also called the E763, will greatly facilitate the transportation of passengers and goods between the Balkans and the hinterland of Europe.

Aleksandar Milic, technical director of the Stanari Thermal Power Plant, the first China-built coal-fired power plant in Europe, said the operation of the plant in northern Bosnia and Herzegovina meets or even exceeds the EU standards for controlling emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and dust.

For the China-built solar power plant in Hungary's Kaposvar, with a total investment of around 100 million euros (about $121 million), Hungary signed no loan or electricity purchase fulfillment guarantee, which means that no government debt was added due to the project, said Meng Fanye, director of the project.

Besides Europe, BRI projects are also underway in some areas in Asia, despite all the obstacles brought by the pandemic.

In Cambodia, Chinese and Cambodian workers are forging ahead with the construction of the country's first expressway.

Connecting the capital city of Phnom Penh and the deep-sea port province of Preah Sihanouk in southwestern Cambodia, the $2 billion Chinese-invested expressway is expected to become the artery of Cambodia's economy.

In Sri Lanka, a Chinese operation and maintenance team has been doing its utmost to ensure the normal operation of Lakvijaya Power Station, a Chinese-built power plant that provides about 40 percent of the nation's electricity supply.

Pang Tusheng, a technician of the team, said he planned to return to China to attend his daughter's wedding, but the pandemic changed his plans.

"Under such circumstances, we should stick to our posts because it's a significant task to maintain the smooth operation of the power station," said Pang.

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