About 100 residents in the northwestern town of Kozarac gathered on Monday for a peaceful protest against the planned construction of the Banja Luka-Prijedor highway, arguing that the route is unnecessarily endangering their property.
According to Senad Bratic, an MP in the National Assembly of Bosnia’s Republika Srpska (RS) entity, this is not the first protest over the matter. After locals protested in the summer, the RS ministry in charge said that most of their concerns are justified but authorities did not fulfill the demands of the locals.
Some 40 residential, 50 farm buildings and about three hundred hectares of good fertile land are planned to be destroyed for the highway, he said.
Bratic stressed that locals support the construction of the highway in general.
“However, they do not understand the designer or who is behind it, that in this way the existing facilities are endangered and that the route of the road becomes more expensive when we have the opportunity to implement a route between the railway and the Sanicani pond that would not endanger anyone,” he explained.
The Bosniak member of the country’s tripartite Presidency, Sefik Dzaferovic, expressed support for the protesters.
“The route of the highway which endangers the facilities and property of the citizens of Kozarac, as well as the functioning of the community itself – must not be set in a way that is not in line with the Constitution and the framework of democratic practices. The will of the citizens and the local community must be respected, and earlier the competent institutions of the RS and the experts said that the requests were justified and promised to move the route out of the settlement. I don't know why it wasn't done,” Dzaferovic said.
Meanwhile, the RS Ministry of Spatial Planning, Construction and Ecology said that of the 80 buildings in the Prijedor area that are, according to the plan, set to be destroyed to make way for the highway, only 17 are in Kozarac.
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