Szeged, deputy mayor Sándor Nagy

How much does BYD change the everyday life of the people of Szeged? – interview with Vice Mayor Sándor Nagy

Local News

Among other things, this was discussed when we talked with Sándor Nagy, Vice Mayor of Szeged responsible for urban development. But we also asked about how the fate of a particular part of the city is decided, i.e. what it stands for or fails at, what the municipality develops in a year, and in this connection quite a few investments were also discussed.

When we talk about urban development, on what basis does the municipality decide which neighborhoods will be developed in a given year?

In recent decades, industrial developments have gravitated towards the west and northwest of the city, and this is no different now, as it is well known that Szeged was chosen by the world’s leading electric car manufacturer, BYD, among several possible domestic and foreign locations. The global company will build its electric car factory in the 300-hectare industrial park on the border of Szeged, next to the ELI-ALPS laser research institute and the Science Park, from where it will serve the European market. As a result, this part of the city will undergo much more development than, say, the rest. There is a reason for this, namely that we would like the city residents not to be disturbed or influenced in any way by the operation of the factory. However, there is something we need to change. So, when we talk about industrial developments, we are talking about the development of the western and northwestern parts of the city, which is also an investment in settlement development. Just as the Southern Tisza-Bridge will be.

In terms of urban development, Szeged is also excellent because relatively everything within the city itself is quickly and easily accessible. In this way, the development is also simpler and one project can even affect several areas. As a result, however, the needs of the population also change, so not only the existing areas require renewal, but also those that are used frequently and a lot by a large part of the residents. The city policy is that, in addition to the large, downtown, densely and heavily used areas, in all areas of the city, if possible, developments that are not only essential and useful for the residents but also able to keep up with the expectations of the 21st century, take place equally. I’m thinking here of, say, climate policy.

We also try to spend the EU resources – by the way, these are the most significant resources of the local governments – so that it can be seen in the areas outside the city center as well. This also includes housing estate developments that took place in recent years and went by various names, but their focus was mostly on increasing green areas.

In addition to the mentioned EU funds, the municipality also provides funds for urban development. This is how the site of the former Gyevi cemetery will be renewed in 2024, where we will make landscaping and create a promenade. Szabadság square, where we will also provide opportunities for sports. In the same way, we will also build a running circuit in Tápé and Szőre, because we see that these settlements outside the city are slowly but surely fulfilling a suburban function, so we must provide the people living there with services that were previously only available within the city. In addition, road renovations will take place, and bicycle storage facilities will be built throughout the city. Not to mention downtown streets such as Gutenberg or Tavasz Street.

How much does it matter who represents a particular city district?

Good individual representatives take quite a lot off our necks. This is, of course, normal, but care must be taken to satisfy the demands reasonably, in the appropriate order and manner, and last but not least, fairly. Fortunately, so far there has not been a bigger conflict than this the representatives can be said to have learned a lot from each other during each development.

In several Facebook groups in Szeged, you can see that the locals believe that the city is overpriced for international students and tourists. What do you think about this?

Looking at the real estate market and the hospitality industry, I think that the market is becoming more and more divided, that is, some focus on the international customer base and some focus on the domestic customer base – and I think that this is normal.

Many people in these groups also complain that Kárász Street or Passzázs Row is no longer what it used to be, more and more shops are deciding to close, and more and more entrepreneurs are moving their activities outside the city center.

The fact that the tenants of the shops change is a matter in which the municipality cannot have a say, it is driven by the market.

What impact will the BYD under construction have on the everyday lives of the people of Szeged? Whether it is the development of the real estate market, the operation of catering units, or, for example, transport.

The real estate market has gone crazy. Everyone thinks that what used to be worth one forint is now worth two, but at least two and a half forints in Szeged. Normalization in this area will take longer. However, it is worth knowing that workers’ hostels can be established in the factory area according to strict rules. As a result, we will probably rarely meet the workers in the city center. Regarding transport, the municipality promised that the launch of BYD will not affect it either within the given city district or outside of it. For this, the Ministry of Construction and Transport plans the road improvements in cooperation with the city. It is already certain that we will have to expand public transport in the section along the factory, and that Highway 5 will become four lanes.

In the past few days, we have read in several places that the factory has posted the first job advertisements. Can you confirm this?

Yes, although to avoid misrepresentation, I must point out that BYD does not coordinate all its actions with the Szeged municipality. Not only because they already have their electric bus factory in Komárom, which means they have sufficient knowledge and experience in Hungarian waters. The workforce employed there includes both Chinese and Hungarians and if we start from this, it will certainly not be any different in Szeged. While in the Csongrád-Csanád county, including Szeged, for example, unemployment is only minimally present, on the other hand, in the Southern Great Plain, this problem is visible and noticeable with the naked eye. Not to mention the proximity of Vojvodina, where there is also a lot of good and useful labor that can be mobilized. Therefore, the municipality hopes that the factory will primarily choose workers from the mentioned areas. But at the same time, it should not be forgotten that every foreign company has its team, who are specializes in the production method that the given company follows, and, likely, this team is also made up of foreign workers at BYD. And we can count on the fact that foreigners will be involved in the construction process itself, since as we know, there is a huge labor shortage in the construction industry in Hungary today.

In conclusion, when it comes to the construction industry and construction, by definition everyone is now wondering when the factory will start to be built and when will it start operating.

For now, all we know is that BYD wants to start production in Szeged in the second half of next year, for which they must start construction within days. The area has been cleared of ammunition, and archaeological work is currently underway. The preparations are on schedule, and the construction of the factory will also be on schedule. BYD has a construction permit for the foundation of the first two halls, which is a special type of general construction permit. The factory will therefore acquire the permits step by step after the area comes into its possession. Thus, the plants will certainly be handed over in several steps and production will also start in several steps.

Translated from Tamara Pósa’s article from the Szegedi Nap page.

Photo: Frank Yvette

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