After the Writing of "Impuls": Responsible Parties “Wash Their Hands” of the Failure of the Nevesinje – Berkovići Project

After the Writing of "Impuls": Responsible Parties “Wash Their Hands” of the Failure of the Nevesinje – Berkovići Project

Photo: RTRS

After we published that the Government of the Netherlands suspended a grant of 2.9 million euros for the modernisation of the regional road Nevesinje – Mostar, the blame game for the lost funds continues.

Written by: Miljan Kovač

In response to the inquiry we received from "JP Putevi Republike Srpske" after publishing the article "Government Squanders 2.9 Million Euros for Nevesinje – Berkovići Road", they now redirect us to the institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"The grant you are inquiring about was cancelled by the Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands negotiated with the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina regarding these grant funds, so you should address them for more information about the negotiation process and cancellation", was stated among other things in the response of this public company to the Impuls portal.

We remind you that it was precisely from the Council of Ministers, that is, from the Ministry of Finance of BiH, that we were advised to contact the relevant ministry in the Government of Republika Srpska,

"In a letter from Invest International-a Public Programmes B.V., dated February 16, 2023, the grant funds are no longer available. Considering the fact that the section of the regional road Nevesinje - Berkovići is located in Republika Srpska, I propose that, if you need more information, you should contact the competent Ministry of the Government of Republika Srpska", replied the Ministry of Finance of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

We also contacted the relevant minister, Nedjeljko Čubrilović, who was "surprised" that we asked him, and directed us to "Putevi Republike Srpske" (translation: Roads of Srpska).

"Please, please, for that information, contact “Putevi Republike Srpske”, not “Autoputevi Republike Srpske”,  I don't have that information with me", the responsible minister stated.

We followed his advice and awaited a response from "Putevi Republike Srpske", but apparently, they "have nothing to do with it" either. Oddly enough, during the signing of the grant in February 2018, it was precisely stated that the remaining funds for the modernisation of this road would be provided by this company. Moreover, as we have already reported, "Putevi Republike Srpske" included the modernisation of the road to Berkovići in the Public Procurement Plan for 2019 and estimated the total value of the works at 20,376,859.03 BAM without VAT, with the approximate starting date of the procedure being April of that year.

In the meantime, the Government of Republika Srpska has allocated 15 million BAM for this project. After, at the initiative of SNSD deputies in the RS Assembly, Ilija Tamindžija, the Municipal Assembly of Nevesinje adopted a conclusion in May 2019, requesting the government to redirect these funds to the rehabilitation of the Nevesinje – Mostar road, specifically the construction of a tunnel on that section, problems arose. Although the government rejected this initiative, "Putevi RS" excluded the project from the Public Procurement Plan the following year.

It seems that "Putevi Republike Srpske" now claim to "know nothing" about it and are unaware of the current status of the project that has been ongoing for years.

"The planning documents of the Public Enterprise ''Putevi Republike Srpske'' Ltd. Banja Luka for the year 2024 are in the final stages of preparation, followed by their adoption. Only after the adoption of the business plans, more can be said about the projects planned during this calendar year", the response from "Putevi Republike Srpske" states.

As we have previously reported, the grant for the modernisation of the regional road R-435 was signed with the Government of the Netherlands on February 13, 2018, by Vjekoslav Bevanda, the then Minister of Finance and Treasury of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

It was said at the time that the funds would be sufficient for 27% of the project and that the rest of the funds would be provided by the Government of Republika Srpska, that is, the Public Enterprise "Putevi RS".

Six years later, through the Ministry of Finance of BiH, we learned that the funds of 2.9 million BAM from the grant of the Government of the Netherlands are unavailable.

While those in charge wash their hands of responsibility and pass it on to each other, the citizens of Nevesinje and Berkovići, residents of villages along this section, year after year, especially in election years, hear new promises from party activists about getting asphalt "soon".