Bratislava, November 8 (TASR) – Water transport on the Danube River will be smoother and safer, as the Transport, Construction and Regional Development Ministry has obtained a European grant worth €123 million for reconstructing two locks at the Gabcikovo Waterworks (hydroelectric plant and dam) in Trnava region, TASR learnt on Tuesday.
Transport, Construction and Regional Development Minister Arpad Ersek (Most-Hid) told journalists at a press conference dedicated to the modernisation of the Gabcikovo Waterworks that the waterworks have been in operation for 24 years and so are now wearing out.
“At this point, the state budget probably wouldn’t have enough money to repair everything that needs to be done at the Gabcikovo Waterworks,” said Ersek.
“The project is very important for three reasons – there’s the aspect of transport on the Danube River, the safety element and the all-year use of this river that flows through the whole of Europe,” he added.
The total costs of the project will amount to more than €144 million, with almost €123 million of this sum covered by a ‘Connecting Europe Facility’ contribution and the remaining €21 million financed by the state. The responsibility for carrying out the project falls under the Environment Ministry.
Environment Minister Laszlo Solymos (Most-Hid) pointed out that the waterworks have strategic importance for the country. “They protect us from floods, regulate the flow of the river and, of course, also have substantial energy benefits. Regular repairs are no longer sufficient. It’s time for major repairs of these locks. I’m convinced that we’ll handle this task together and make transport on the Danube River safer,” said Solymos.
Daniel Kvocera, general director of the state-owned Water Management Construction Company (Vodohospodarska vystavba), which operates the ferry service at Gabcikovo, noted that more than 285,000 people and 6 million tonnes of cargo are transported through the locks each year.
European Commission (EC) representative Desiree Oen stressed that the project is important not only for Slovakia, but also for neighbouring Austria and Hungary and the entire Rhine-Danube corridor. “This project is environmentally friendly. It will help to prevent floods, develop transport and attract tourists. It’s beneficial for everyone. It will bring growth and new jobs,” said Oen.
The Environment Ministry is planning to launch a tender for the project at the beginning of 2017. The construction work should begin in mid-2017, and the two locks are expected to be modernised by the end of 2020. The Gabcikovo Waterworks will remain in full operation during the reconstruction work.