Bosnian capital risks water, traffic chaos over unpaid power bills
SARAJEVO Aug 28 (Reuters) - Bosnia's main electricity utility threatened on Wednesday to cut off power to the capital's waterworks, sewage system and transport network over unpaid bills totalling millions of Bosnian markas.
EPBiH set a Thursday deadline, raising the prospect of water shortages and transport chaos in Sarajevo, whose water and sewage company ViK and public transport company GRAS owe nearly 10 million Bosnian marka ($6.8 million).
Both have been in financial difficulty for years. GRAS has total debts of 100 million marka while ViK's infrastructure was badly damaged during the Bosnian war of 1992 to 1995.
"Electricity supplies will be halted for ViK Sarajevo unless it pays the agreed amount of 1.1 million marka by Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013," EPBiH said in statement.
It also demanded GRAS make the equivalent of three average monthly payments of around 300,000 euros by the same deadline, or face losing power to trams and trolley-buses in the capital.
Nobody from the two companies was immediately available to comment, but the Sarajevo canton transportation minister, Jusuf Bubica, said the government would help GRAS pay off its part of the debt by Friday in order to avoid the traffic chaos.
The threat comes just days before the start of the new school year in the city of 400,000 people.
EPBiH has already cut off power to ViK's headquarters but said it would now also halt electricity for water pumping stations.
Suad Zeljkovic, head of the Sarajevo canton, accused EPBiH General Manager Elvedin Grabovica of trying to bring down the government.
Grabovica says he is simply trying protect the interests of the power utility, which has reported a rise in output and profits in the first half of the year as its hydro power stations benefit from high water levels. (Editing by Matt Robinson and David Holmes)
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