The Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works provides BGN 108 million under the OPRG for a medical helicopter, repair of 134 km of roads, sports equipment in 100 high schools and renovation of buildings

The Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works provides BGN 108 million under the OPRG for a medical he

27 Nov 2019 | 15:31

With some of the funds, they are building a smart transport system that warns drivers of road hazards

Over BGN 108 million will be provided additionally under the Operational Programme “Regions in Growth” 2014-2020 managed by the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works for the purchase of a medical helicopter, rehabilitation of 134 km of national roads, energy efficiency of buildings in small municipalities and new sports equipment for about 100 vocational high schools. This became clear during the 15th meeting of the Programme Monitoring Committee.  It was chaired by the Deputy Minister of Regional Development and Public Works and Head of the Managing Authority of the OPRG - Denitsa Nikolova. Aurelio Cecilio and Jo Govaerts from the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy also participated.

BGN 20 million of the additional funds will be redirected to the Ministry of Health, which will be able to buy a helicopter for air rescue and transportation of patients in need, rescue and donor operations. The project will analyze and identify the most suitable sites for takeoff and landing. “Our goal is to provide specialised sanitary transport for those in need in hard-to-reach regions affected by accidents, as well as for transplantation of organs, tissues and cells.  Thus, we will achieve a complete renovation and modernisation of the emergency care in the country,” said Deputy Minister Nikolova and noted that currently BGN 163 million from the OPRG are allocated to the repair of all emergency medical centres in the country and delivering 400 new ambulances. 

Another more than BGN 57 million will be invested in the rehabilitation of national roads, as well as in the construction of a smart transport system to increase road safety, the committee members also decided. With BGN 55 million, The Road Infrastructure Agency will be able to repair six more 134 km of road sections connecting 11 municipalities in six districts. “5 of the additional sections are in Northern Bulgaria, which confirms the government’s priority to support its development,” said Nikolova. The sections that will be repaired are Mizia - Oryahovo - Krushovene in Vratsa district; Polikraishte - Elena - Sliven in the districts of Sliven and Veliko Tarnovo; Ruse - Kubrat - Isperih - Dulovo in the districts of Ruse and Razgrad; Polski Gradets - Topolovgrad - Ustrem village in Haskovo district; Kableshkovo - Mezhden in Silistra district and a section of the road Varna - Beloslav - Razdelna - Padina - Zhitnitsa in Varna district. Since the beginning of the current programming period, BGN 377 million under the OPRG has been used to finance the rehabilitation of another 24 road sections with a total length of nearly 505 km. 

A little over BGN 2 million will be used to finance a project of the State Agency for Road Safety for a smart transport system, which will help drivers with valuable and timely information about the road situation and the condition of the road network, including presence of accidents. It will consist of sensors, meteorological and road stations, smart electronic road signs with variable content and the ability to detect speed. They will be located in critical points, determined after analysis of the transport load, specific data on climatic conditions – frequency of rain and snow, fog, potential dangers of icing and more. “We expect to contribute to reducing the number and severity of road accidents, strengthening traffic control on national roads and improving the efficiency of road maintenance,” said Deputy Minister Nikolova.

The 28 small municipalities and peripheral regions in the country will receive an additional amount of nearly BGN 25 million to improve the energy efficiency of residential and public buildings. The amount will be supplemented with another BGN 14 million of saved resources, which will be directed to them at the end of the month. Thus, the total budget will reach nearly BGN 40 million, and it is now possible to renovate buildings of more than 35 flats.  Since the beginning of the OPRG programming period, 202 energy efficiency projects worth BGN 204 million have been implemented in the 28 small municipalities.

The Ministry of Education and Science will receive about BGN 6.2 million. With over BGN 4.5 million of them, 7 vocational high schools and the Thracian University will be renovated. With the remaining over BGN 2.5 million, about 100 high schools in the country will be provided with new sports equipment. Thus, almost all newly renovated schools will receive an adequate and innovative sports base. Deputy Minister Nikolova noted that BGN 618 million have been invested in their renovation under the OPRG, and so far 80 buildings have been repaired - 49 schools, 26 kindergartens and 5 universities.

“We report very good implementation of the Operational Programme “Regions in growth” 2014-2020,” said the Regional Deputy Minister. To date, 86% of its resources or BGN 2.5 billion have been contracted. Over BGN 1.5 billion are disbursed funds under projects of the beneficiaries, and nearly 30% or BGN 1 billion are the funds reimbursed by the EC. “The programme has the most direct contribution to the people, it is most visible to the public, because the main beneficiaries are the largest and medium-sized municipalities in the country,” she added. Nikolova noted that there is no risk of non-implementation of the programme. “Next year we expect a large number of projects to be completed, and on some of the priority axes we report project implementation between 80 and 100%.” She added that they are actively working to develop the future regional development programme, which is focused on the development of the territory by increasing the potential of each region.

Aurelio Cecilio expressed his support for the allocation of additional funds and pointed out that the projects are extremely important, because our country is the only one in the EU that does not have a medical rescue helicopter. Investments in road infrastructure are also important for improving the country’s transport system. “The new composition of the EC sets a priority in the next programming period for Europe to pursue a policy closer to the people. “The OPRG interventions represent this goal because the activities concern the lives of all people," Cecilio commented.