EU-Funded Serb Municipal Buildings Hit Delays

Brussels wants to know why new local authority HQs in Gracanica and Klokot are months behind schedule.The European Commission is looking at why construction of municipal buildings it funded in two Serbian communities is months overdue amid a legal dispute between the contractor and sub-contractor.

“The case does not involve the EU office in Kosovo, but we are reviewing the case with our contractor to avoid further complications that would cause delays in the completion of the municipality buildings,” the European Commission office in Kosovo said in a written statement.

Gracanica’s new facilities were supposed to be ready in October last year, while those in Klokot should have been completed by June 1, 2012.

The municipalities of Gracanica and Klokot were established in 2010 as part of a decentralisation process aimed at strengthening local governance in minority communities in Kosovo.

Officials in both communities told Prishtina Insight that the municipalities are now having to pay thousands of euro per month to rent office space.

“We pay 4,600 euro rent a month for two facilities,” said Nada Brkljac, head of urban planning in Gracanica. “This is a big sum, so it’s important for construction to finish and for the facility to be ready for work.”

A 2010 European Commission project worth just under 7 million euro is funding construction of municipal buildings in Gracanica, Klokot and several other towns.

Sasa Sacic, representative of Zagorje Tehnobeton, the Croatian company which won the contract for the project, declined to comment to Prishtina Insight and directed inquiries to company headquarters in Zagreb.

The company did not respond to inquiries about the projects in Gracanica and Klokot. Zagorje Tehnobeton’s lawyer in Kosovo, Iljaz Ramajli, declined to comment.

Officials from both municipalities said the company was blaming the delays on problems with its subcontractors.

A Kosovo-based subcontractor, Euro-Ing, is suing Zagorje Tehnobeton, and two other Croatian firms, for 664,342 euro.

The company alleges that it completed construction work for which it was never paid, including work in Gracanica and Klokot. The case is currently before the Economic Court of the District of Prishtina.

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