MUCH OF the reconstruction work carried out so far in Serbia is sub-standard and will have to be redone, experts claimed this week.
Emergency repair and reconstruction of bridges, roads, rail line and power and energy infrastructures damaged by Nato air strikes has been carried out in the last year. It is estimated £120M has been spent so far.
But according to a new report by Belgrade based economics forum G17+ the work has been rushed and done on the cheap, using low grade materials.
On the reconstruction of bridges the report - Serbia 2000, a year after the Nato bombing - states: 'In most cases investments of the Agency for Reconstruction were lower than real estimated costs of repair since cheaper materials were used, while the politically dictated limitation of deadlines resulted in unreliable construction, which will shorten the time of exploitation of the repaired bridges.'
It is widely acknowledged that civil engineering projects were used as a propaganda tool to demonstrate that Serbia could rebuild itself despite economic sanctions imposed by the European Union.
The report notes: 'A relatively small amount of money was spent, whereas a relatively high political and marketing effect was achieved.'
It lists 35 bridges which have been totally reconstructed and five which were partially repaired. But engineers working on reconstruction schemes are reported to be unhappy with standards.
'A lot of colleagues are not satisfied with the quality of work done, ' said an independent consulting engineer based in Belgrade. 'It was carried out fast and for publicity purposes.
Much of the work will have to be redone.
'You have to wait for concrete to cure for example, before putting it under load.'
The newly elected democratic coalition headed by Vojislav Kostunica is to carry out an inspection of a new road bridge spanning the Danube at Novi Sad, replacing a structure bombed by Nato and completed last week.
The height of existing river piers dating from before the First World War was raised to increase clearance for shipping.
It is feared the condition of the piers was not surveyed properly before work got under way, said managing director of Novi Sadbased cable manufacturer Novkabel, Djordje Siradovic.
The majority of repairs carried out on existing bridges and replacement bridges are temporary, says the G17+ report.
However, Serbia is virtually bankrupt and has to complete billions of pounds worth of outstanding reconstruction in other sectors. The majority of temporary bridges will be in place for the foreseeable future.
Maintaining poorly repaired infrastructure will become an increasing financial burden, the report states.