The Ministry of Transport and Communications of the RS does not want to answer questions regarding Chinese ownership of plots of land along the highway route. The questions are addressed to the Republican Administration for Geodetic and Property Legal Affairs of Republika Srpska, which for the past few years has been managed by Dragan Stanković, the son of Milorad Dodik Buda Stanković’s godfather, otherwise a new “resident” of the American blacklist.
Shandong International (SDHS CSI BiH), a Chinese company that is building a highway from Banja Luka to Prijedor, owns several plots of land in Republika Srpska along the route of that highway, according to Inforadar.
Several sources have confirmed to our portal that the Chinese partner of the Government of Republika Srpska in the construction of this highway has become the owner of plots of land in the village of Lamovita, right next to the future highway route.
The entire process, as is the case in all similar situations, was carried out in an insufficiently transparent manner and points to corruption and clientelism. The public was not informed about the land transactions, first between private landowners and the Government of Republika Srpska, and then between the Government and the Chinese company Shandong International, which is based in Republika Srpska.
THE GOVERNMENT OF RS ANSWERS – WITH SILENCE
Attempts to obtain official information about these strange transfers of ownership between individuals, the Government of Republika Srpska, and the company that is the partner of the Government in the construction of the Banja Luka-Prijedor highway were unsuccessful.
There is not much official information about the cooperation between the Government of Republika Srpska and the Chinese company Shandong International, as the Government does not like to reveal its dealings with the Chinese to the public. The best proof of the secrecy of the Government of Republika Srpska’s dealings with the Chinese is the fact that the Prime Minister and the Government persistently refuse to publish the contract for the construction of the highway with this Chinese company, citing Shandong’s wishes.
“As far as we are concerned, we can publish it today, but our Chinese partner objects”, said the President of the Republika Srpska Government, Radovan Višković, recently, during the signing of a contract with a consortium of Chinese companies for the construction of a section of the highway from Brčko to Bijeljina.
He then announced that the public will not be presented with the contract for the construction of the section of the highway being built by another Chinese company.
The Government and the Ministry of Transport are no less secretive when it comes to land in Republika Srpska, whose owners “overnight” have become the Chinese.
The Ministry of Transport and Communications does not want to answer questions regarding Chinese ownership of plots of land along the highway route. Questions are addressed to the Republic Administration for Geodetic and Property-Legal Affairs of Republika Srpska (RUGIP), which has been run by Dragan Stanković, the son of Milorad Dodik’s godfather Budo Stanković, for the past several years.
“Regarding your questions regarding the sale and purchase of immovable property in the expropriation process, we advise you to address your request to the Republic Administration for Geodetic and Property-Legal Affairs of Republika Srpska”, the Ministry of Transport of Republika Srpska replied.
Director of RUGIP, Dragan Stanković, who has been under sanctions and on the United States “blacklist” for about ten days, did not answer the specific question of who is listed as the owner of the plot in Lamovita under RUGIP.
The evasion of the question regarding the owner of the plot at RUGIP headquarters is justified by the fact that this is not information “in accordance with the Law on Free Access to Information but rather represents data from the public records of the real estate cadastre.” As Stanković explains in his response, this means that a “third party” cannot obtain information on ownership of specific properties without a valid reason.
Photo: Answer to Inforadar from RUGIP
THEY BOUGHT THEN SOLD THEN BECAME GUESTS AT HOME
Confirmation of our information, however, came from the Prijedor branch of this administration, where we were informed that the owner of the land in Lamovita is indeed a Chinese company.
“The owner of the aforementioned plot 1972/7 K.O. Lamovita is SDHS-CSI BH DOO Banja Luka. The plot was formed by splitting from the aforementioned owner. For other information, it is necessary to submit a request for the chronology of registration – archival documentation”, we were told by the Prijedor branch.
Photo: The Prijedor Regional Unit officially confirmed Chinese ownership of the plot
Inforadar has learned that the Government of Republika Srpska, for the purposes of building the Banja Luka-Prijedor highway, first acquired this parcel of land as part of a much larger one from its previous owner, a citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina from Republika Srpska, and then sold the same parcel to the Chinese company SDHS-CSI BH DOO.
Interestingly, an overpass will now be built on that parcel, and its price has skyrocketed in the meantime, according to our sources.
Since the government refuses to communicate or comment on this process in any way, it is not officially known at what price the government bought the land from the original owners or at what price they later sold the same land to the Chinese. It is also unknown how much the parcel costs at this moment, what will be built on it, and at what price.
Land on the route of the future highway owned by the Chinese (Photo: Dejan Rakita)
The answer to these questions would undoubtedly reveal the essence of the entire land ownership transaction and its intentions.
Unofficially, the purchase price per square meter in the expropriation of land for the construction of the Banja Luka-Prijedor highway route in that part of the route amounts to five convertible marks per square meter. That is how much Republika Srpska paid for expropriation. How much the Chinese paid for the land after that is not known to the government.
The construction of a local road overpass on the parcel owned by the Chinese company SDHS will be done by the company Everit d.o.o. According to available official data, that company is owned by the SDHS-CSI company and was founded only after the arrival of the Chinese company in Republika Srpska and the conclusion of a contractwith the Government of Republika Srpska.
The owner of the land is a Chinese company that formed a new company for the construction of overpasses in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Photo: Dejan Rakita)
CONTRACT AND EVERYTHING ELSE – SECRET
Nedeljko Čubrilović, who was appointed as the Minister of Transportation of RS in the new government, refused to answer questions from our journalist regarding Chinese ownership of land in Lamovita. Čubrilović, after hearing the question, simply walked past our team.
Nebojša Vukanović, a member of the National Assembly of Republika Srpska, says that everything related to the construction of the Banja Luka-Prijedor highway is shrouded in secrecy.
“As for the sale of these plots, as long as these deals are done in a non-transparent way, behind the public eye, there is suspicion that there is a lot of abuse and crime. If everything was clean, of course, no one would have a need to hide the contract”, says Vukanović.
Vukota Govedarica, an SDS member of the National Assembly of RS, says that neither he nor any opposition member of the National Assembly knows anything about the construction of the Banja Luka-Prijedor highway or the purchase of land along the highway route.
He also reminds us that the public has not seen the agreement between the government and the Chinese companybuilding the highway.
“Here, the matter is clear, if everything is true, the government, together with the Chinese, knew the route of the highway, bought certain plots and locations from individuals, and sold them to the Chinese, whether at a price that suits them or the government – I don’t want to go into that now. When you have a hidden agreement, there is a lot of room for abuse, it’s just a matter of how much those abuses are expressed”, says Govedarica.
As expected, the Chinese company Shandong International did not respond to our questions regarding the fact that they have become the owners of the plot along the Banja Luka-Prijedor highway. This company does not communicate with the public in Republika Srpska.
In the meantime, this Chinese company has begun construction of the Banja Luka-Prijedor highway, and work has started near Prijedor. According to what the government has so far announced to the public, the Chinese are financing the construction of the highway. Republika Srpska has committed to paying an annual fee of thirty million marks for thirty years after the construction is completed.
Works on the Banjaluka – Prijedor highway (Photo: Dejan Rakita)
Increased transparency in the deal between the Government of Republika Srpska and a Chinese company has not been aided by the Banja Luka District Court’s ruling which classified the highway construction contract as a public interest matter. The court overturned the decision of the Ministry of Transport, which had denied the organization Transparency International Bosnia and Herzegovina’s request for access to the contract.
“The court has annulled the decision and ordered the Ministry to issue a new one in accordance with the merits of the judgment which states that this is public information. According to that, we should have already received the contract, but that hasn’t happened”, said Srđan Traljić of Transparency International Bosnia and Herzegovina to Inforadar.