BIRN Wins 2017 Kosovo Journalism Poverty Prize

A story about women raped during the Kosovo war and their struggle for justice has been awarded the 2017 Journalism Poverty Prize in Kosovo.

Pristina-based journalist Serbeze Haxhiaj was awarded on Friday for her story ‘The Enduring Agony of Wartime Rape in Kosovo’, published on BIRN’s flagship website Balkan Insight.

The story explores how women who have been raped and tortured during the Kosovo war are not applying for reparation schemes due to the stigma of rape that is still persistent in Kosovo society almost 20 years after the war.

The article was published as part of BIRN’s Transitional Justice Programme, which has been covering stories daily since 2012 related to dealing with the past in the former Yugoslavia, with focus on criminal justice efforts, victims’ rights, memorialisation and institutional reform.

The Kosovo Journalism Poverty Prize was awarded for the 12th time by the United Nations Kosovo Team and the Association of Kosovo Journalists to mark the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty and promote and increase the debate around the issues and causes of poverty in Kosovo.

Elections Complaint Panel Approves 27 Complaints by BIRN and Internews Kosova

BIRN and Internews Kosova monitors closely monitored political entities during the campaigning period for the upcoming local elections on October 22.  So far, BIRN and Internews Kosova have collected evidence regarding 56 potential cases of attempted violations of Kosovo’s election campaign rules; so far, 27 have been approved by the Election Complaint and Appeal Panel (ECAP).

ECAP has fined political entities running in the local elections a total of 66,900 euros based on the written complaints of BIRN and Internews Kosova.

The fines include the following:

 

  1. The Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) was fined 18,850 euros regarding eight approved complaints
  2. The Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) was fined 14,850 euros regarding six approved complaints.
  3. Alternativa was fined 11,300 euros regarding four approved complaints.
  4. The Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) was fined 8,500 euros based on three approved complaints.
  5. The New Kosovo Alliance (AKR) was fined 8,100 euros regarding three approved complaints.
  6. Vetëvendosje was fined 3,500 euros regarding two approved complaints.
  7. NISMA was fined 1,800 euros regarding one approved complaint.

 

The vast majority of these violations were for the involvement of minors under age 18 in campaign activities; violations of this nature resulted in a total of 18 approved complaints and 47,850 euros in fines. It is worth mentioning that this is the first time that ECAP has punished political entities for using children for their political campaigns, based on complaints submitted by BIRN and Internews Kosova.

Due to the involvement of persons under the age of 18, LDK has fines worth 17,350 euros. Podujeva’s mayoral candidate from LDK, Agim Veliu, was fined twice for the same violation worth 6,200 euros. Due to this violation, ECAP punished four other LDK candidates for mayoral positions. Among them, Muharrem Svarqa was fined 3,100 euros, Lutfi Haziri was fined 3,050 euros, and Bajrush Ymeri was fined 3,000 euros.

In four cases regarding the involvement of children in electoral campaigns, PDK was also fined 11,000 euros. As a result of posting a video on Facebook in which children were present, Kadri Veseli from PDK was fined 3,000 euros. Lirak Çelaj, PDK’s mayoral candidate for Prishtina, was fined 3,500 euros for publishing a video that included children. PDK’s branch in Ferizaj was also fined 2,500 euros for publishing pictures of children wearing symbols representing PDK.

AAK was fined twice for the involvement of children in their electoral campaign with the amount of 6,500 euros. A promotional AAK video that included the presence of minors, which was shared on social networks, cost this political party a fine worth 3,000 euros. A promotional video for NISMA’s mayoral candidate for Prizren, Zafir Berisha, also included minors and resulted in a 1,800 euro fine.

BIRN and Internews Kosova will continue to monitor the final day of the campaign, the day of election silence, as well as the electoral process, including the submission of complaints for potential violations on election day.

 

This Year, for the Third Time in a Row, BIRN Kosovo and Internews Kosova’s Complaints Result in Fines for Political Entities

On October 20th, 2017, Kosovo’s Elections Complaints and Appeals Panel, ECAP, imposed  fines worth a total of 20,150 thousand euros to five political entities as a result of BIRN Kosovo and Internews Kosova’s written complaints regarding alleged violations of the Law on Elections during the local election campaign.

As a result of the panel’s decision, The Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK, received a fine worth 3 thousand euros; The New Kosovo Alliance, AKR, was fined 5,100 euros; The Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK, has received three fines adding up to 6,450 euros; the new Kosovo political party Alternativa has received a fine for 3,600 euros; and finally, the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, AAK, was fined 2,000 euros.

This decision follows several previous decisions by ECAP to reprimand political parties for violating Kosovo’s Law on Elections following complaints from BIRN Kosovo and Internews Kosova.

KALLXO.com will report on each decision individually in the coming days.

 

BIRN’s Weapons Investigation Wins Online Poll

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network’s investigative story The Pentagon’s $2.2 Billion Soviet Arms Pipeline Flooding Syria has been selected as the best article by voters in a Forum on the Arms Trade online poll recognising exemplary reporting in articles published from July 1 to September 30, the organisers announced on Wednesday.

The authors of the investigation are Ivan Angelovski and Lawrence Marzouk, and the story is a part of wider research by BIRN and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, OCCRP on the arms trade.

“The type of deep dive investigative reporting that Ivan Angelovski and Lawrence Marzouk have done here is difficult and extremely valuable. Drawing attention to how the arms trade is conducted, with specific identification of international actors who often bend if not outright skirt the rules, reminds us that diligence is needed at all levels,” said Jeff Abramson, an arms trade expert and senior fellow at the Arms Control Association.

“As the Trump administration moves forward with new arms sales and security assistance, their findings serve as examples of how to examine whether it proceeds responsibly,” Abramson added.

Eleven articles were nominated by experts chosen by the Forum on the Arms Trade for being examples of exemplary journalism that uncovers new information and/or expertly explains issues related to the arms trade, security assistance and weapons use that were published in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Angelovski and Marzouk’s story traced programmes to arm Syrian rebels, aided by questionable use of end-user certificates and what they called “misleading” legal documents.

They identified the supply of AK-47s, rocket-propelled grenades and other weapons, often from the Balkans, eastern Europe and former Soviet Union factories and inventories, as being led by the US military’s Special Operations Command, SOCOM, as well as the Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey.

When asked about why they felt it important to report on apparent abuses within the system for conducting arms transfers, Angelovski and Marzouk told the Forum on the Arms Trade: “The rules are supposed to prevent weapons ending up with terrorists, criminals and rogue states. Countries which have signed up to these rules should abide by them. Breaches of these rules presents a real, current risk to the world, but more troubling is the long-term impact if the whole system is undermined.”

“There’s actually a lot of quality reporting on arms trade, security assistance and weapons use. All the articles that were nominated for exemplary reporting, as well as previous winners and nominees, are great examples of quality reporting,” Angelovski and Marzouk added.

“However, there is not enough media awareness of the issue, partly as it requires some specialist knowledge to begin to find interesting stories and understand their importance. Few journalists have this know-how or the time to learn,” they said.

Novo Brdo, A Municipality with Tourist Potential but Few Investments

Will the future mayor of Novo Brdo manage to solve all of its problems?

The Municipality of Novo Brdo is one of the smallest municipalities in Kosovo. It has less than 10 thousand residents, around 60 per cent of which are Serb. It has a budget that is barely above two million euros, which is insufficient to solve the problems that have remained since the Kosovo War.

One of the oldest residencies of Kosovo, almost 18 years after the war, still faces problems such as a lack of water, a lack of basic health services, unemployment, the lack of development, and economic weakness to provide citizens with basic infrastructure.

Currently, Novo Brdo is led by Mayor Svetislav Ivanoviq, who is running for his second mandate, and is challenged by four other candidates representing the political parties the Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK, the Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK, the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, AAK and the New Kosovo Alliance, AKR.

BIRN Kosovo’s mayoral debate series #DebatPernime (#RealDebates) is presenting research on the issues in Kosovo’s municipalities and offering citizens a chance to hear the mayors’ platforms and solutions.

One major problem citizens bring up is the lack of water. The majority of water system supplied to the municipality is dysfunctional due to the interruption of electricity by KEDS, due to the debt that is over 80 thousand euros.

The water supply is located in the village of Llabjan, which supplies water to the neighborhoods Mustafa, Abaza, Talaj, Haxhaj, Zeqiraj, and Stojkovic. This water supply is out of function due to property issues.

Other non-functioning water supply systems are found also in the villages of Makresh and Kufca.

In 2015, the Municipality of Novo Brdo signed a memorandum with the regional water supply company Hidromorava in an attempt to bring its residents drinking water. However, even two years after the signing of this memorandum, the citizens continue to use wells that they’ve opened on their own.

The poor health of Novo Brdo

The residents of Novo Brdo, apart from lack of water supply systems, have to be careful about consuming the water from their wells, since the doctor in Novo Brdo is only available until four in the afternoon, and only on certain days of the week. There is no gynecologist or care. For health issues, residents must otherwise travel to Prishtina or Gjilan.

 

The lack of professional medical staff is not the only health problem in Novo Brdo; apart from the terrible infrastructural conditions, residents also face a lack of various medications, especially materials that are spent, which make the commitment of basic medical services impossible in family medicine centers.

Infrastructure

Despite the fact that there have been some investments, with only 370 thousand euros available for the municipality of Novo Brdo, the infrastructure of this may continue to disappoint residents.

The lack of a sewage systems in the majority of villages in the Municipality of Novo Brdo is one of the main problems. Also, the lack of roads paved with asphalt in Makresh, Kosaqë, and partly in Pasjak and Llabjan, is an additional problem.

Another problem is the issue of sidewalks and public lighting, both of which are rarely found in Novo Brdo.

Economic development

From almost 10 thousand residents in Novo Brdo, around 1,700 of them are unemployed and are registered with the employment office, while there are 648 cases of residents who receive social assistance due to their essential needs.

For the citizens of Novo Brdo, one primary source of income is mining work. Despite the fact that this municipality has a suitable environment to develop farming, the lack of infrastructure and basic services discourage investors.

The Municipality of Novo Brdo has not managed to enhance the tourist potential of the medieval castle, despite the fact that it is widely visited by citizens from Kosovo and foreign tourists.

Lipjan: A municipality of contaminated waters

Will the future mayor of Lipjan address the residents’ grievances?

In the population assessment conducted in 2012, the municipality of Lipjan has 58 thousand residents and a budget of 13.1 million euros.

Almost half of the neighborhoods in Lipjan do not have a water supply system at all: 29 neighborhoods out of the 62 do not have a water supply system.

The KALLXO.com team, after conducting research in the field, has noted that the villages that are linked to the water supply system, such as the villages of Magura and Janjeva, experience severe water cuts.

The villages that do not have a water supply system at all include: Toplican, Gracka e Vgel, Kraishta, Zllakuqani, Krojmiri, and Rusinovci.

The lack of water is one of the many struggles the future mayor will be asked to address after the upcoming local elections, for which there are five candidates running for mayor.

Out of these five men, three already have political positions in this municipality. No women are running for mayor of Lipjan. In the population assessment, conducted in 2012, Lipjan has 58 thousand residents and a budget of 13.1 million euros.

Lipjan also has problems with the sewage systems. Fourteen neighborhoods do not have a sewage system. The remaining areas, 48 villages, have a sewage system, but the sewage ends up in the Sitnica River. The field investigation conducted by KALLXO.com shows that the condition of rivers in the Municipality of Lipjan is dire: waste is being thrown into the waters, the surface waters are dirty, sewage pours into the rivers.

The citizens have reported to KALLXO.com that in Lipjan’s Janjevka River, near the Ulpiana High School, the city sewage system passes through and the residents of that neighborhood cannot stay in their houses due to the terrible odor.

According to GAP Institute, despite the fact that during this mandate, the municipality built two collectors for the treatment of sewage (collector 1: the treatment of sewage systems in the villages of Kraishta, Ribar i Madh, Ribar i Vogel, Poturovc, Torina, Dobraje e Madhe, and the main collector in Lluga, with a length of 6,600 meters; and collector 2: the treatment of sewage systems in villages Bujari, with the overall collector for sewage systems of Smallusha, Qollapek, Marec, Gllavice, Llugaxhi and Kojska, with a length of 8,000 meters), because there is a lack of sewage treatment/collection plants, the sewage is pouted in the the Sitnica River.

Lipjan also has issues with illegal waste disposals. Our team has shown that the rivers are contaminated, especially because of the waste that is thrown into the waters by the citizens themselves. In the village of Gadime, despite the fact that protective walls for the river have been built, there is still a presence of waste. One part of the river is completely covered by grass, while the other is covered in waste.

Whereas in the Sitnica River, protective walls for the river have been built. According to the GAP Institute, the municipality and the Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning have signed an agreement for cooperation on financing the project for building the surface of Sitnica River for the amount of 170,000 euros.

Education

The Municipality of Lipjan, despite the investments in schools, continues to have problems in the education sector. The KALLXO.com team has found that in the school Ibrahim Krasniqi school, located in village of Smallusha, students must use the bathrooms outside the buildings, because the bathrooms inside the school building do not have sufficient water to be kept cleaned.

Also, life in the village New Topliqan, the Vellezerit Frasheri Elementary School, where children attend classes from preschool to fifth grade, is a very poor condition. The school’s bathrooms are basically destroyed, and the school does not have a sports hall.

According to data from the Municipality of Lipjan, “8 schools have sports halls, while the majority of schools have open sport spaces.”

Lipjan has only one kindergarden, and no kindergardens have been built during the past four years, not even the multi-ethnic kindergarten, which was an agreement of cooperation with the organization “Rrugetimi” under UNICEF.

Infrastructure

In New Topliqan, apart from the problem with the school building, there are also problems with asphalt. The Muse Meta Street is completely unpaved, which causes the road to become muddy. Also in this village, on Rexhep Stublla Street, which leads to the Vellezerit Frasheri Elementary School, the road is unpaved.

The municipality of Lipjan has mainly invested in infrastructure, but what is noticeable is that villages such as Kraishtë, Ribar, Smallushë and Magurë have only partial sidewalks and public lighting. The general audit has given a remark that the Municipality of Lipjan has given a tender worth 28 thousand euros without having a project for building sidewalks in the village Llugaxhi.

Apart from these problems, Lipjan faces also damages to asphalt in the village of New Rifc, where there are cracks on the roads and some potholes.

Health

Lipjan does have gynecologists, but there is a lack of citizen trust in the institution. There are two gynecologists-obstetricians to help mothers give birth to their children. However, in the period January-September, in the maternity department of the center for medicine in Lipjan, according to the director of the main center for family medicine, Agim Krasniqi, there were only 5 births. In the same period, there were 134 cases which included removal of stiches of mothers who gave birth outside of the main family centers in Lipjan. Hence, the number of births given can be even bigger, but the citizens do not believe that there are proper conditions to give birth in the main center for family medicine of Lipjan

The director himself admits that in order to increase the number of births given in this center, a complete team is needed.

“In order to increase the number of births given, we must have a complete team which would include at least two anesthesiologists and gynecologists, as well as serviced for warm meals for maternity. These are conditions offered at the secondary care (hospitals), so it escalates the concept of primary care, respectively the concept of family medicine,” Krasniqi said.

Our investigation shows that also the dentistry building is in a bad condition, and often lacks dentistry supplies.

While the emergency clinic, which was built recently in the village Smallusha, is functionalized, there is no doctor or equipment.

the municipality officials themselves have admitted that there are complaints that main centers of family medicines, centers of family medicines, and other centers of medicine are out of basic supplies.

“Supply from the Ministry of Health with medications and supplies from the essential medicine list is up to 50 per cent, and around 25 per cent is filled from the revenues of the municipality for basic supplies, labs, and dentistry supplies, which is entirely covered by the municipal budget. However, the fulfillment of citizens needs remain difficult to be finished,” the municipality said in a statement.

Also, Lipjan has trouble with money surplus which it has not been able to spend within the year. The audit says that a cumulative surplus worth 757 thousand euros from its own source entries since year 2016 and earlier has been transferred to the year 2017.

“The financial statements of funds, compared to other categories, reveals that there is a lower level of budget spending when it comes to capital investments (86 per cent). This is because of the failures to finish implementing capital projects in accordance with dynamic plans,” stated the audit report for financial statements of Lipjan in 2016.

The own source entries of Lipjan completed during 2016 totaled 1.1 million euros. If the transferred revenues from the previous years are taken into account, according to the audit, Lipjan collected 1.6 million euros in 2016.

The GAP Institute says that Lipjan has the biggest number of economic zones. The municipality has these announced economic zones: the Economic Industrial Zone- QMI with a surface of 87 acres, the Economic Zone “Industrial Park” in Kerqeva with a surface of 139 acres, the Mixed Zone with 120 acres, and the Airport Zone (ZE – A), with 190 acres.

 

Millionaire mayoral candidates race for Viti

Will the next Mayor of Viti manage to solve its problems?

Four men are vying for the position of mayor of the Municipality of Viti.

The three candidates running against current mayor Sokol Haliti are millionaires. The candidate from the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, AAK, Nura, is a businessman.  A slightly less wealthy candidate is Besim Halimi from the Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK, who claims that his wealth exceeds millions.

Salih Salihu, from Vetevendosje, has real estate worth 2.2 million euros and is also running.

In the meantime, the current mayor, Sokol Haliti, for this year, declared inheritance from his father worth of 125 thousand euros, house worth 70 thousand euros, and about 33 thousand euros cash in the bank.

Although Viti, inhabited by around 47 thousand people, has a department of gynecology, women in this municipality give birth in other cities, considering that is impossible within the municipality of Viti.

KALLXO.com’s research reveals that Viti has enourmous problems with illegal landfills, drinking water and sewage. The education system is not good either. The municipality of Viti has only one public kindergarten, and only one physical education hall.

The municipality of Viti has a budget of about 10 million euros per year.

Health

The GAP Institute states that Viti has issues in providing healthcare. According to GAP’s data, a doctor in Viti serves 308 residents, unlike the average of other municipalities, where a doctor serves 288 residents.

Apart from insufficient staff, Viti also does not have enough space to take care after those in need. KALLXO.com’s investigation shows that those who must be on dialysis have to travel to Gjilan or Ferizaj in order to receive hemodialysis services, considering there is no department dealing with the treatment of these persons.

Although there is a gynecology department in Viti, there are no births taking place there, only check-ups.

Women of Viti must travel more than 21 kilometers to the Gjilan’s hospital or that of Ferizaj in order to give birth.

On the other hand, the Pozhoran village has more than four thousand residents; there are health centers that were built during the current mandate, but there is no dentist. The residents of this village told KALLXO.com that they are in need of a team of dentists. Even though the municipality has not provided the health centers with any dentists, three private clinics are currently functioning in this village.

Sports and culture

For the first time in Viti’s history, a football club has managed to play in the local football superleauge. Pozhoran’s KF Vllaznia is playing this year  in the Kosovo football elite; however, the matches are not taking place at its stadium. This is due to the poor infrastructure of the stadium. KF Vllaznia is forced to play matches at the stadium of Gjilan, and Viti’s residents are not able to watch their home team matches.

NSERT PHOTO 1 – Pozheran Stadium

In addition to not being able to watch the KF Vllaznia matches at their own stadium, Viti residents are also not able to attend theater events, since the Municipality lacks a theater. Viti was a grantee for a 3D cinema donation, but it has not been functionalized.

 

Viti also has an Olympic sports player. Last year, Urata Rama was one of the eight Olympians who presented Kosovo at the Olympics in Rio, Brazil. However, Urata lacked institutional support. In 2016, the municipality provided her with an amount of 959 euros in subsidies during her stay in Rio, which translates into about 80 euros per day.

Illegal waste landfills

Although the center of the city creates the impression of a completely clean municipality with no landfills, this, this changes when one visits other areas across the city.

KALLXO.com has found that there are over 20 illegal landfills in the Municipality of Viti. This was also admitted by the municipal officials themselves.

According to municipal officials, they have gotten rid of some illegal landfills, but they haven’t managed to completely eradicate them yet.

Education

Only one school in Viti has a physical education hall. Other schools own sporting structures, however, it is impossible to provide physical education classes during the winter season and rainy weather within these structures.

The General Auditor has stated that although the Municipality of Viti has allocated student scholarship funds, it has decided not to allocate the money to the students, but to keep them for itself instead. KALLXO.com found that the scholarships planned for the academic year 2016/2017 were only distributed in July 2017. Therefore, 135 students were granted their scholarships late. According to the municipal officials, the scholarships were provided within the academic year; however, the students already finished their exams in June.

There is only one public kindergarten and one other private kindergarten in the municipality of Viti. According to municipal officials, they have the space for kindergarten buildings, considering that they may use a part of a school for it, but they also state that they lack funds to pay the staff.

 

Sewage and water supply

The Municipality of Viti has also issues with drinking water and sewage. The inhabitants of the villages of Sllatinë e Epërme and Lower, Trestenik, Sadovinë e Çerfeldit and Sadovinë of Jerlive are not yet connected to the water supply network, although the municipality states that it has invested in the water supply system. Four other villages in the municipality, Goshica, Gërmova, Vërbani and Smira, are not connected to the water supply network either.

KALLXO.com’s investigation shows that in other villages of the municipality, there are problems with water supply systems, which are not managed by Hidromorava. According to the data provided, areas that remain connected to water supply, and are not managed by any company are: Letnicë, Shashare, Skifteraj, Begunce, Kabash, Binqe, Shusht, Terpeze, Budrike and Zhiti.
The village of Tërpezë is already contracted but there is no sewerage network; in the village of Begunce, Ramnishtë and in the eastern part of Viti, the sewage network is only 50 per cent completed. Villages that do not have septic tanks, and consequently, have issues with sewage are Devaja, New Village, Upper Budrika, Goshica, Verbani, Sodovina and Ceret, Tresteniku, Lubishte and Kabashi.

BIRN Kosovo and Internews Kosova’s Complaints Once Again Result in Fines for Political Entities

On October 17, 2017, Kosovo’s Elections Complaints and Appeals Panel, ECAP, delivered fines worth a total of 18 thousand euros to four political entities as a result of BIRN Kosovo and Internews Kosova’s written complaints regarding alleged violations of the Law on Elections during the local election campaign.

As a result of the panel’s decision, the new Kosovo political party Alternativa has received a fine for 1,200 euros; The Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK, has received two fines adding up to 6,300 euros (one fine for 3,100 euros, and the other for 3,200 euros); The Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK, received three fines worth 7,500 euros (one fine for 2,000 euros, another for 2,500, and another for 3,000 euros); and finally, The New Kosovo Alliance, AKR, was fined 3,000 euros.

This decision follows several previous decisions by ECAP to reprimand political parties for violating Kosovo’s Law on Elections following complaints from BIRN Kosovo and Internews Kosova.

KALLXO.com will report on each decision individually in the coming days

Life in Podujeva, with a Dream for Water

What do the citizens of Podujeva expect from their future mayor?

 

The future mayor of Podujeva will struggle to solve the problems with water, sewage systems, waste, public transport, education and street infrastructure with only five million euros.

The KALLXO.com investigation into municipal issues, which lasted several months in the villages and the city of Podujeva, identified a range of problems that await solutions from the municipal government.

There are two waste collection companies in the municipality of Podujeva. However, the municipality still has serious problems with illegal waste disposals.

There are illegal waste disposals within the city, also located on school grounds.

Data shows that the former local government built around 25 kilometers of sewage systems. However, the system is not spread around all inhabited areas.

The KALLXO.com investigation shows that all sewage systems of the city and of the 41 villages end up contaminating the flow of the Llap River, which was used by farmers to water their cultivations for a long time.

The Batllava Lake, which is one of the main basins from which Prishtina and a few other municipalities receive water supply, is located in the region of Podujeva. However, Podujeva is discriminated in terms of being supplied with water. The lack of drinkable water, especially during summer, is considered a huge problem in Podujeva. Fitorja and Dumnica e Poshtme Streets, despite the fact that they are linked to the water supply system, still do not receive water. Villages such as Zakuti, Doberdoli, Kerpimehi and Revuq are not even linked to the water supply system.

The audit stated that the water supply project “Vrella” has not been finished since 2009. The citizens have contributed by 71 thousand euros for this project, but it hasn’t been functionalized yet. The begun project in 2009, costing 331,336 euros, co-financed by the citizens with 71,600 euros.

Infrastructure and urbanization

The investigation shows that Podujeva has problems with infrastructure, urbanization, illegal constructions and municipal property usurpations.

During the investigation, was evident that the villages of Lupç, Shajkoc, Sveçël, Balloc, Metergoc, Ballaban, Kushevicë have problems with streets.

Within the municipal governance, Podujeva has problems with municipal property usurpations. KALLXO.com has asked for the usurpers list and the list of illegal constructions. However, no such list was received with the excuse that it is “being updated”.

According to the audit report, the Municipality of Podujeva has not verified 1/3 of the real estate, as required by the Law on Taxation of Real Estate no. 03/L-204 and the Administrative Order no. 03/2011 for the Collection and Registration of Information on the Property and Tax-Payers. For this reason, the Municipality of Podujeva has failed to collect the debts from offering these properties for use.

Health and social welfare

There are 21 clinics built for the 78 villages of the municipality and for the city. Two of them are located in the city, and 19 are located in villages. Only two clinics work 24/7, whereas the others work only on one shift.

Podujeva has in total 19 clinics in the following villages: Majac, Bradash, Shajkoc, Herticë, Dobratin, Llapashticë, Lupç, Lluzhan, Orllan, Batllavë, Dyz, Halabak, Sveçël, Shajkovc, Gllamink, Dumnicë, Kërpimeh, Murgull and Bajçinë.

The Main Center for Family Medicine, after being governed by an acting head for six years, has been assigned a director only recently. The Emergency Center does not fulfill the requirements and the expectations of citizens. The majority of health labs of this municipality are out of function.

Budget, money management and usurped propertied

According to the genera audit, the business debt toward the municipality is up to 3.6 million euros. Recently, apart from the fact that the municipality has not collected the multi-million-euro debt, it has decided to decrease different municipal taxes by 50 per cent.

The audit says that the capital investments budget was spent by 85 per cent, while the spending of own source entries was only 59 per cent.

Podujeva has a budget of 19 million euros, out of which five million are allocated for capital investments. The municipality of Podujeva has collected 230 thousand euros less than it had planned for year 2016.

For the years 2015 and 2016, the audit found that the municipality of Podujeva has problems with collecting debts for the properties it has let on rent.

The directorate of property, cadaster, and geodesy has had stagnations in drafting contracts for the properties it has given for rent, since most of the liabilities according to the contracts have not been fulfilled by users, the report states. Apart from this, the municipality has not registered 1/3 of its properties, and as a consequence, it does not manage to collect the revenues from taxes and rents.

The Stagnated Development of Drenas

Will the future mayor of Drenas manage to solve its many problems?

The future mayor of Drenas, a municipality famous for its metal processing, will have to confront many challenges, from illegal constructions to the health care sector.

The municipality, located in the center of Kosovo, has 73 thousand inhabitants. Currently, Drenas is dealing with an emergency clinic that has been turned into a disposal for animal food, 14,081 illegal constructions, and damages to water sources and the environment.

BIRN Kosovo’s mayoral debate series #DebatPernime (#RealDebates) tackled this issue and others during KALLXO.com’s investigative research and the subsequent municipal debate.

The data shows that the governance of Drenas has managed to collect 1.1 million euros of revenues, in comparison to Suhareka, a municipality of similar size, which collected 1.9 million euros. The central governance of Drenas has built an industrial park which has potential for the development of the municipality. A challenge for the upcoming mayor will be the treatment of sewage systems deriving from of the park. Sewage from this park ends up in Korretica, which leads to environment contamination.

The other generator of jobs in Drenas, the processing of Ferronickel, in the past two years has faced problems due to the decrease of the price of nickel in the stock market. The current government has decided to exempt the company from municipal taxes in order to make the continuance of work possible. After the local elections, the debate as to whether these taxes will proceed will continue, along with the expectation that the increase of investments and subsidies in agriculture will occur.

Illegal constructions and infrastructure

The mayor of Drenas will have to address the challenge of illegal acts in the construction business.

KALLXO.com’s research shows that Drenas has 14,081 illegal constructions and six constructions that exceeded the high limit n the existing apartments of the city.

The control of these buildings will be able to bring thousands of euros of revenues to the municipality.

When it comes to infrastructure, Drenas has a huge problem with parking lots, because the space near the bus station that is used for parking floods when it rains.

The residents of the villages of Dobroshevc, Bainca, Gllanasella, and Abri struggle with a lack of sidewalks. This is especially frightening because children have to walk on the streets on their way to school.

The traffic at the entrance and exit of the city and the dangerous railway remain a challenge in the city’s infrastructure. Several deaths have been recorded due to this insecurity.

The problems with infrastructure extend further when it comes to the water supply and sewage system.

Only 35.7 per cent of the residents have access to drinkable water, while 27 residencies do not have access to the public water supply system at all.

KALLXO.com’s investigation revealed that Drenas has 31 schools and one kindergarten. 29 of the schools work in two shifts. A challenge for the new mayor will be to double the space for schools in order to allow schools work in one regular shift.

Health and social welfare

The municipality has still not finished building a new health clinic in the village Negrovc or dividing parcels of land for the families of war veterans. Three mandates ago, the municipal government promised to build the veteran’s street by dividing land banks and promising the development of infrastructure on this street. The project continues to remain on paper, serving as a promise to win votes.

The investigation also shows that there are 73 thousand inhabitants who are not provided with services such as mammography and ultrasounds.

The images of the center of family medicine show that there is lack of equipment, while the beds are too old and the bathrooms are not clean.

The mayor will also be expected to functionalize the center of family medicine in the village of Negrovc. The constructions began four years ago, and the building cost the municipality 45 thousand euros. It was built on the property of a resident who was promised that his property would be compensated. After the failure of negotiations, the property owner stopped the work, while the building, which was an investment of the municipality, is now used as a disposal for animal food products