Smederevo with its developed marina may get on the nautical map of Europe in three years. German architects see the Smederevo marina as a place with great potential, and they claim that a mooring space for yachts and boats can be formed in that location in accordance with the EU standards. Within the next three months, GIZ experts will estimate how much money is needed for that project, while the city plans to build that marina through a public-private partnership.
Predrag Umicevic, mayor of Smederevo, speaks for eKapija about plans for the improvement of water transport, construction of a trimodal logistics center by Chinese companies, opening of a free zone, as well as about sports and tourist facilities in the city on the Danube.
eKapija: Experts of the German Organization for Technical Cooperation (GIZ), who are working on a study for the revival of the Smederevo marina, were staying in the municipality last week. Did you agree on something? What are further plans for the marina?
- The study will be finished soon. We will learn within the next three months how much money is required for the construction of a marina. Companies from our town are interested in investing in that project, and they have formed a consortium comprising seven companies led by the company Mitrasinovic. The Law on Public-Private Partnership will be adopted soon, which will enable the town to work with interested companies on that project.
eKapija: Since Smederevo lies on the bank of the Danube (21 kilometers), do you have a plan for the development of tourism?
- The Smederevo fortress is the backbone of the development of historical tourism. The problem is that no passenger ship docks in the local port. We hope to have our loading port converted to a passenger port soon, and then we can expect a greater development of tourism in our town. Another tourist potential of ours is the Obrenovics`s Villa, which has recently been reopened in association with the republic agencies.
eKapija: Smederevo has joined the EU Strategy for the Danube Region program. What are the projects that the town will seek grants from the EU funds for?
- We have applied for grants for over 20 projects worth EUR 60 million, including the construction of a freight transport center, water treatment plant, marina, relocation of railway facilities, and other smaller projects.
eKapija: Smederevo has no real hotel. Are there any ongoing activities aimed at attracting investors to invest in such facilities?
- Hotels that currently operate in Smederevo are those with a smaller capacity – Car with 50 rooms and Hamburg with 16 rooms. If Smederevo hotel, which has been privatized, fails to open in 2012, the town will be left without investors interested in such facilities. Smederevo is an industrial town and, having in mind the crisis, there are no potential investors. We believe that more interested investors will emerge in the following period.
eKapija: Construction of railways and relocation of the port from the town are in the pipeline? How much of these plans has been fulfilled so far?
- We should start the implementation of that project this year. All plans are already made and property relations are resolved. A total of RSD 200 million are earmarked in the republic budget for the project. We expect the Serbian Railways to kick off construction works this year.
eKapija: You have also announced the construction of a trimodal logistics center. What is the estimated value of that investment, in which way is it going to be financed, and what are the deadlines for the completion of works?
- That is a long-term project worth EUR 40 million. We still have no exact investment plan. A preliminary design is completed, and we are now looking for an investor. The Chinese are interested in investing in this center. A delegation of the Embassy of China has recently visited us to discuss possible cooperation, but no details have been specified yet.
eKapija: What is going on with Comico Oil`s plan to build an oil refinery in Smederevo?
- I have made a decision to allot a building land for the construction of an oil refinery on the territory of the town of Smederevo to the company Comico Oil. The Smederevo Assembly should give its consent for the text of the agreement with the investor within the next few days.
eKapija: The Ministry of Finance has announced the opening of a free zone in Smederevo. When do you expect this zone to open? Are there any investors planning to open a company within the zone?
- There are many companies interested in opening a company in that free zone, which we expect to open in Smederevo until the year`s end. Belgium`s Metech is already operating in Smederevo, and we expect another software company from Belgium to arrive soon.
eKapija: Construction of a sports and recreation center on the Danube is in the pipeline. Which facilities will that complex comprise?
- That sports and recreation center will make it possible for people to engage in rowing sports, play outdoor basketball and other sports on small courts. All courts will be built next year.
eKapija: Smederevo got a new swimming pool last year, and the plan is to cover it so people could use it in the winter period as well. What is going on with that project?
- The swimming pool was supposed to be covered by the town`s partner - U.S. Steel, but since they are now unable to provide funds for this project, the town will earmark the funds for that purpose in the next year`s budget. It is an investment worth EUR 250,000.
eKapija: Does Smederevo plan to offer some special benefits to investors?
- We have a very good position, which is also a great advantage. We are now considering a set of measures for investors, including the reduction of taxes, etc.
eKapija: What are priorities of the municipality for the following period?
- Our plan is to solve infrastructure problems in Smederevo, and some of the projects in the pipeline are the reconstruction of main roads, changes in complete gas and plumbing utilities, etc. Projects are expected to be implemented within the next six months, and 2.5 million euros, which is the amount of these investments, have been provided from a loan.