Sarajevo trams, trolley buses grind to a halt over unpaid bills
* Power utility cuts electricity to public transport company
* Public companies in Bosnia in deep financial trouble
* Cut off threatens traffic chaos in capital Sarajevo
By Maja Zuvela
SARAJEVO, Sept 30 (Reuters) - Sarajevo's trams and trolley buses ground to a halt on Monday after Bosnia's top power utility, EPBiH, cut electricity supplies to the capital's public transport company over unpaid bills.
EPBiH said it was forced to act after the loss-making GRAS transport firm failed to pay a monthly instalment of close to 332,000 Bosnian marka ($230,000) from its nearly 3 million marka debt to EPBiH.
The cut off saw more Sarajevans take to their cars, causing long queues. Others walked, braving the rain.
Management difficulties, bloated staff numbers and the effects of an economic slowdown have left GRAS and other public companies in Bosnia in deep financial difficulty for years. GRAS alone owes a total of 100 million marka.
"EPBiH management warned that it would not allow the EPBiH operation to be jeopardised by the negligence and irresponsibility of the Sarajevo cantonal authorities and GRAS management," the power utility's general manager, Elvedin Grabovica, said in a statement.
The utility has struggled to collect bills from ailing public companies, including from Sarajevo's waterworks and sewage company ViK, which was badly damaged during Bosnia's 1992-95 war when the capital was under siege.
ViK won a reprieve on Monday when it paid its monthly debt instalment.
Haris Ducic, a spokesman for the cantonal prime minister, said the local government and GRAS were in talks to find a solution but it was unclear if or when public transport would be restored to the city of some 400,000 people. ($1=1.444 Bosnian marka) (Editing by Matt Robinson)
- Insight: How U.S. spying cost Boeing multibillion-dollar jet contract
- Exclusive: Secret contract tied NSA and security industry pioneer |
- With Fed out of the way, what's next on Wall Street?
- Yemeni al Qaeda says attack on hospital was mistake
- Insight: For Chinese farmers, a rare welcome in Russia's Far East