Budapest Assembly Votes For Review Of Chain Bridge Reconstruction Plans

  • 30 Jan 2020 6:42 AM
  • Hungary Matters
Budapest Assembly Votes For Review Of Chain Bridge Reconstruction Plans
A municipal review of Chain Bridge reconstruction plans aimed at cutting costs has got the go-ahead from Budapest city lawmakers.

The Budapest Assembly accepted a proposal by Gergely Karácsony, the city’s mayor, to reassess the project won through a public procurement tender, as well as the conditions set down in the tender, with 19 votes in favour and 3 abstentions.

Karácsony said that given the urgency of refurbishing the bridge itself, the original plan to revamp the Castle Tunnel nearby at the same time may have to be reconsidered.

Budapest’s municipality lacks 10 billion forints (EUR 30.0m) in funds for the planned reconstruction of the city’s iconic Chain Bridge, and will have to curb the technical aspects of the revamp should the government not top up funding, the group leader of the opposition Socialists in the Budapest Assembly said.

Speaking to a press conference ahead of the first assembly meeting this year, Csaba Horváth said the “high prices set by companies close to the government” stop the city from launching the reconstruction.

Meanwhile, the assembly also passed amendments regarding procedural rules that Karácsony insisted would make the assembly’s operations more democratic while broadening citizen participation.

He said the changes also aimed to fortify the assembly opposition’s right to examine laws and procedures and to improve transparency. The amendments were accepted with 18 votes in favour, 6 against and 7 abstentions.

Zsolt Láng, the leader of the Fidesz-Christian Democrat group in the assembly, insisted, however, that the draft regulations failed to “ensure basic democratic rights while curbing councillors’ rights”.

It also allows the mayor to chair meetings in a “strongly authoritative manner” while running afoul of the law on local authorities, he said. Several amendment proposals of the opposition had been incorporated into the draft.

Also, in a unanimous vote, the assembly allocated 35 million forints (EUR 104,000) for a monument to women raped during the world wars. The proposal declares that gang rapes by Soviet troops during the second world war “are a part of our collective memory” and this was treated as taboo during the communist era.

The memorial aims to “create a space to process the trauma and remind future generations of things that should never happen again,” the proposal signed by Karácsony said.

In a separate development, the assembly has approved a proposal to order a new feasibility study for the Római embankment along the Danube in the city’s northern Csillaghegy bay area, and cancel on environmental grounds an earlier plan to place the main dyke near the riverbank. The assembly supported this with 19 votes in favour, 2 against and 6 abstentions.

Last November, the assembly introduced a ban on making changes to the Római embankment in order to maintain professional and social dialogue to decide the necessary flood protection measures.

The new feasibility study will be expected to include an analysis of various locations for a new dyke. Until a final solution is found for flood protection in the bay, the Metropolitan Sewage Works will carry out this task, if necessary by raising the level of the current dyke.

MTI Photo: Balogh Zoltán

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