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The Art of Bridging
The editors of EastRussia understood why the Russian-Chinese bridge across the Amur still exists only in dreams and who is responsible for the project
Who and why will build the bridge
The agreement on the construction of a bridge on the section of the Russian-Chinese state border near the settlement of Nizhneleninskoye of the Jewish Autonomous Region and the city of Tongjiang (China) was signed 27 October 2008. Responsible for the implementation of the project - the government of the EAO from the Russian side and the mayor's office of the city of Tongjiang with the Chinese side. The coordinator of the work is the Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation and the Ministry of Railways of the People's Republic of China.
The railway bridge across the Amur should be the first along the entire length of the Russian-Chinese border along this river. It will reduce the time of transportation of goods between Russia and China by 7 hours, shorten the transportation distance by 500-700 km.
There are no barriers to start building the bridge
4 April in Khabarovsk, chaired by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, a meeting was held to ensure sustainable development of the economy and social sphere of the Far East. At the initiative of the provisional Governor of the Jewish Autonomous Region Alexander Levintal at this meeting, among others, the issue of control over the construction of the bridge was discussed. Levintal stressed that for the region this is a very important anti-crisis project: the absence of a bridge hinders the economic development of the region. At a meeting with journalists, the provisional governor said that before the meeting Medvedev had signed an order to support the construction of a cross-border bridge and agree on its financing.
China will help us
Andrei Ostrovsky, Deputy Director of the Institute of Far Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Head of the Center for Economic and Social Research of China at IFES RAS, recalls that the talk about the construction of this bridge goes for eight years - and each time hindrances and delays interfere. “Since we have problems with financing, the Chinese side proposes to invest fully in the construction of this bridge. China has the money, China is very interested in building. But our Ministry of Transport, naturally, says - and what shall we have from this? If China invests in 100%, then 100% will also benefit from it. As far as I know, local authorities are interested in building this bridge, but they have no money. We don’t have any money right now, it’s impossible to take loans for such rates, ”Ostrovsky says emotionally.
The expert laments that the years go by, the contracts with the Chinese are signed, and no bridge across the Amur has yet been built. Russia needs this bridge for at least one reason - it is necessary to develop the Far East. Without the support of China, according to Ostrovsky, today we will not raise this region. “If ten years ago this question was debatable - we can do without it, Japan, America, the Republic of Korea will help us, but today it is already clear: the main source of help is a dynamic, rapidly developing China,” explains Ostrovsky. - China has potential, China is interested in investing money. But they see our attitude towards these projects, the actual failure. That is, no one directly refuses, but in fact 20 has been empty talk for years. The intergovernmental agreement on another bridge over the Amur - Heihe-Blagoveshchensk - was signed in 1995 year, and there is still no bridge there. ”
According to him, first you need to determine who is responsible for this bridge, from that and ask. A tender for the construction of a bridge should be held, the general contractor selected. As an example, the expert cited the Kerch Bridge. The company Arkady Rotenberg became the sole contractor for the design and construction of the ferry to the Crimea. If after a set time it will not be built, there is someone to ask. Until the general contractor appears at the Nizhneleninskoe-Tongjiang bridge, construction will not begin.
The Russian Direct Investment Fund is counting on a partnership with the Far Eastern Development Fund ...
The Russian Direct Investment Fund through the RCIF takes every possible effort to start construction. The fund was informed that a director was appointed in the project company, he took up his duties, the tender for choosing a general contractor is at the final stage. The press service of the fund commented on the situation around the bridge: "In accordance with the intergovernmental agreements that have been signed, responsible for the implementation of the project to build a bridge across the Amur are the regional and federal government authorities in the Russian Federation and the PRC, as well as the Far East Development Fund (FRDF) Who joined the project in 2013. At the request of the Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation in 2014, RFPI joined the project as a co-investor from the Russian side, and significant rogress: coordinated technical (geological) parameters to build a bridge with China, established working relationship with the Chinese province of Heilongjiang and the contractor, as well as an agreement with the Jewish Autonomous Region on the implementation of the project. The RFPI is ready to continue its participation in the bridge construction project and expects that the Far East Development Fund will ensure the fulfillment of all its obligations, in particular, on entering the capital of the project itself. Indeed, it is the Far East Development Fund, as the initiator of this project, that invited the RCIFF to participate jointly. "
"Since the involvement of the RCIF in this project, all negotiations with the parties to the deal, including the Russian and Chinese sides, all the key conditions for implementation have been discussed exclusively with the Fund for the Development of the Far East and the Baikal Region. Accordingly, all the parameters, risks, and mechanisms for their reduction were initially known to the Fund for the Development of the Far East and the Baikal Region. Now is the time to work together to reduce these risks, "the Russian Direct Investment Fund said in the Media Department.
... and the Development Fund of the Far East is waiting for proposals from RFPI
Among those responsible for the implementation of the project RFPI calls the Development Fund for the Far East and the Baikal Region. In the Fund itself, the answer is: "The format of our participation in the project is being discussed." Representatives of the FRDF told that in 2013-2014 the Fund participated in the preparation of the investment project "Construction of a railway bridge crossing across the Amur River" Nizhneleninskoe - Tongjiang ", which is being implemented as part of an intergovernmental agreement between the Russian Federation and the People's Republic of China. In September 2014, a Memorandum of Intent was signed between the Fund and the RFPI, according to which the RFPI independently started the project implementation, acquired 100% Rubicon LLC and left the Fund with the opportunity to join the project participants in the future - subject to certain conditions, including Related to obtaining the necessary approvals with the Chinese side and the Russian Railways. "Until now, these conditions have not been met. Once the project company completes the approval procedures, the Fund will be ready to promptly consider the issue of participating in the project. Currently, 100% of the company "Rubicon", which is implementing the bridge construction project, belongs to the RFPI. The Development Fund of the Far East twice sent to RFPI proposals on the formats for joint implementation of the project, "the Fund explained.
RFPI does not see any differences in the joint work with the Fund for the Development of the Far East on the project, says its CEO, Kirill Dmitriev, and once the risks were identified, it means that we need to try to remove them together. According to him, it was assumed that under the agreement concluded in September 2014, the Fund for the Development of the Far East would also enter the capital of Rubicon LLC, with the shares of both funds being to make 50%. Moreover, both foundations were supposed to enter the project simultaneously, as well as their joint work to develop the project and remove existing risks. The RFPI claims that they answered all the proposals of the Far East Development Fund in detail and do not doubt that the construction of the bridge from the Russian side will begin in the near future.
Ministry of Transport is extremely short
Optimists do not lose hope
Mikhail Blinkin, director of the Institute of Transport Economics and Transport Policy at the Higher School of Economics, believes that if this bridge appears, it is only in the format of public-private partnership with subsequent paid travel. "Otherwise 100 years will wait for this bridge. Currently, almost all of the road program of the Russian Federation has been appropriately sequestered. Naturally, many objects flew out, including those that experts have been talking about for years. About some bridges across the Amur, conversations have been going on since I was a junior researcher. We will not find budget money for this project in the near future, so we need to look for other options, "the expert explained. Blinkin described himself as a great optimist, believing that with the current intensity of Russian-Chinese relations in the next couple of years, some bridge across the Amur will necessarily appear. But then sadly added that his optimism often failed.