"The motorways are a development project"
Several trade unions and civil society groups announced on Monday they would start gathering signatures for a petition for a referendum against leasing the motorways, and called on citizens to support their initiative.
The nationwide signature-gathering campaign will last from October 11 to 25. The referendum question would be: "Are you in favour of a new law being adopted by referendum to declare the existing motorways a strategic interest of the Republic of Croatia and to prohibit their lease," the leader of the Independent Road Workers Union, Mijat Stanic, told a press conference.
Stanic said that they had decided to launch the referendum initiative after all options had been exhausted to convince the government to give up its plan to lease the motorways as part of its efforts to monetise the debt of motorway operators.
"The motorways are a development project. They were built to connect different areas of the country and contribute to the development of the national economy, especially tourism. If they are leased out, they will become a commercial project, which is unacceptable to us," Stanic said.
He said that the government must retain the possibility of building new junctions or turn-offs or not charging toll on certain sections, and that it must also have influence on the amount of toll charged.