Sunday, April 06, 2003

A Bridge Too Far

KK Zadar is basketball club with rich history, but last night's win over Maccabi Tel Aviv gave them their first international trophy. City of Zadar is supposed to organise great public celebration at noon and give the heroes' welcome to Goodyear League champions. But some KK Zadar couldn't wait that long to greet their heroes. They awaited bus with KK Zadar players at Maslenica Bridge on 04:00 CET.

Considering the weather conditions, the zeal of those fans could be compared only with those of suicide bombers. For last few days Adriatic Coast of Croatia is currently experiencing bura – strong northeastern wind. I was recently outside and it wasn't too pleasant experience. I could only imagine what all those fans on Maslenica Bridge had to endure.

Maslenica Bridge is in many ways symbol of Tudjman's Croatia – its triumphs and tragedies. The old Maslenica Bridge, that connected Maritime Croatia and Dalmatia, was occupied by JNA and blown up during 1991 War. Two years later Croatian Army conducted offensive with intention to liberate the area. Immediately after that began the work on the new bridge. Dr. Jure Radić (Jure Radic), Tudjman's housing minister, was in charge of that operation.

After few years, the bridge was finished. However, it turned out that the bridge was not on its old location. It was built further to the west, making it longer. It soon became apparent that the reason for that was price tag; construction company was connected to Radić. Maslenica Bridge thus became the most visible symbol of corruption in Tudjman's Croatia.

It was also symbol of gross incompetence. Radić, construction expert, ignored people's advice about new location being too sensitive to winds. And winds in Maslenica are much stronger than at the rest of Adriatic Coast. That resulted in Maslenica Bridge being closed for large part of the year, often creating insurmountable transportation problems in the middle of tourist season.

I can only imagine what awaits future generations of Iraqis.


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