220714 -- PODGORICA, July 14, 2022 -- Representatives of the China Road and Bridge Corporation attend the opening ceremony of the Chinese-built highway section in Podgorica, Montenegro on July 13, 2022. The 41-km priority Smokovac-Matesevo section of Montenegro s Bar-Boljare Highway built by a Chinese company was opened Wednesday. TO GO WITH Montenegro opens 1st Chinese-built highway section MONTENEGRO-PODGORICA-CHINA-HIGHWAY-OPEN ShixZhongyu PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxCHN

Government crisis, forest fires and a tourist season that was completely ruined by the Ukraine war: The bad news doesn’t stop in this hot summer in Montenegro. But at least the good news about the commissioning of the country’s first motorway is electrifying the 620,000 inhabitants and media of the mountainous Adriatic state alike. Since the new national pride was finally opened after a three-year delay on the national holiday last week, the local media have been feeding the public with news about the turbulent events on the 41-kilometer route.

The highly indebted small state has paid a good one billion euros for its new national pride: Because of the large loan taken out from China, Montenegro narrowly avoided national bankruptcy last year. But now a model highway, built by a Chinese state-owned company in seven years, runs through the mountainous north of the country with over 20 bridges and 16 tunnels.

The state road construction company “Monteput” had tried to prepare its compatriots for the new age of motorways with a spot – and explained the functions of toll stations, warning signals, overtaking lanes and hard shoulders.

Not everyone listened: Already on the first day, the local TV station RTCG reported that drivers had taken a cigarette break in the motorway tunnel. The first wrong-way drivers and speeders thundering down the runway at 200 things made Monteput director Milan Ljiljanic complain about the “great traffic inculture” of his compatriots. However, many of the older vehicles have less of a problem with the permitted maximum speed of 100 kilometers than with the required minimum speed of 50 kilometers when coping with the 1000 meters in altitude.