Building bridges on the road to a better future

1Lt. Michele Cortese
First published in
SFOR Informer#153, December 5, 2002

On Nov. 20, a ceremony took place to inaugurate a new bridge and a road which had been built and handed over to the municipality of Rogatica (Republika Srpska, RS). This was made possible due to the efforts of the Italian CIMIC Unit (ICU) that made the technical plans and managed the work itself. The European Commission provided the funds.

Kukavice - A new bridge and a new road were inaugurated on Nov. 20 and handed over to the village of Kukavice, in the municipality of Rogatica.
The European Commission provided the funds for the implementation of both these projects, at a sum of 300,000KM. The bridge is 13.5 m long and the road, 3.5 Km long, links the nearby villages with the main road.
A bridge of friendship

The Italian CIMIC Unit
The Italian CIMIC Unit (ICU) was created in 1996 as the Italian Military Engineer's Nucleus. It consists of a Task Force made up of twelve engineers, technical/administrative personnel and translators. The Italians planned and oversaw the reconstruction of their facilities which were damaged in the war with assistance from European Union funds as well as national ones.
Up until now the ICU conducted hundreds of different projects such as the re-building public facilities, schools, hospitals, houses, roads and bridges
Over six years, under SFOR guidance, ICU has performed many important public tasks such as the reconstruction of the Law faculty in Sarajevo, primary/secondary schools in Mokro, Olovo, Pale, Podvitez, Rudo, Kalinovik, and roads in Gorazde and Rogatica.
Those operations were supported by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees' programme for the return of Displaced Persons and Refugees to their pre-war homes.

These important public works were planned and managed by the ICU. Local building firms from Srbinje and Pale completed the construction works, in the scheduled time.
"This is a bridge to enable life to flourish, a bridge of friendship. By building bridges, we forge relationships among people. This little bridge can play such a big role, similar to the more famous one in Visegrad that links two sides," said Italian Brig. Gen. Guglielmo Zavattaro, SFOR Assistant Chief of Staff for Support, while inaugurating the bridge.
"This is a relatively small project for us but this road and bridge are really important for the municipality of Rogatica and for the sake of the people who live in the area.
Despite the fact that this territory is part of the RS, most of the inhabitants of this area are Bosniacs. "We hope that this construction project will help reconciliation between the people," said the ICU representative, Lt .Col. Pierluigi Spagna.
The development of the area
"I'm glad to be a witness to the active involvement of the European Commission in contributing to the reconstruction of the country. This is only a small project, but it symbolizes the reconciliation of the people, and a step forward towards future co-operation. I thank the Italian CIMIC Unit and the military and civil authorities who are attending this ceremony. I hope that we will soon be able to see the results of this joint common commitment," said E.U. task manager, Dr. Gianmatteo Arena.
Cedomir Ninkovic, the vice-mayor of Rogatica, thanked all the participants in the implementation of these two projects that, as he said, will provide the best possible conditions for the development of commerce and the economy.
"This road is very important for the municipality of Rogatica. Roads and bridges have always been a means of connecting people. I hope that these constructions will create the right environment for further development in this area," he said during the ceremony.

Related links:
Nations of SFOR: Italy

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Photos: Capt. Martino Dorigo

Local firms played an active part in building the bridge and road. Here, the construction workers are constructing the verges of the road.

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Civilian construction workers during the last phase of the road building.

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This project is very important for the inhabitants of this area. It also plays a large role in creating relationship among the people.