Croatia taxpayer anger at $44m tunnel 'to nowhere'

Omis' incomplete bridge project Image copyright RTL Croatia
Image caption The tunnel has cost over $44m, yet seemingly leads off the edge of a cliff

Croatians in the south of the country are steaming over a tunnel that has cost taxpayers 280m kuna (£33m; $44m) and "leads to nowhere".

According to the TV station RTL Croatia, construction has halted on a 1,471-metre tunnel through a mountain range near the town of Omis, which was meant to connect with an existing bypass and solve the town's severe traffic problems.

The tunnel was supposed to link to the Omis Bridge and was hailed as part of an "important infrastructure project" in providing a faster connection for residents between the town and the main coastal road. It was also hoped that the route would alleviate the "major traffic jams" that the town suffers from during its main tourist season.

Construction began six years ago, but RTL says that "everything stopped" and the money is now being spent elsewhere. This has led to widespread public mockery.

'Maybe they think Batman lives there'

Image copyright RTL Croatia
Image caption Omis residents, including Frane, have ridiculed the project

A number of Omis residents have complained to RTL about the project.

"It takes me half an hour to reach my home, and three hours to reach Split and Makarsa" on the coast, one resident, Marko, tells the broadcaster.

Frane says: "This is all fun for them, maybe they think Batman lives there," while Ante adds: "This junction is the worst in Omis, but there is no money - nothing can be done."

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RTL says that the town's authorities acknowledge that the expensive project "is shameful", and that they have promised to resume negotiations over restarting work.

The town's mayor, Ivo Tomasovic, tells RTL: "After the summer holidays end, we expect there will be a public tender for the construction of the bridge.

"The tender should be completed by the end of the year if everything goes accord to plan. The work then should begin sometime next year," he adds.

Image copyright RTL Croatia
Image caption Omis' mayor says work is expected to resume on the abandoned project next year

Reporting by Kerry Allen

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