When it comes to illegal construction, corruption pays off. Numerous examples prove this claim. One of them is the Municipality of Ilidža. For years, following established practices, it has been granting necessary construction permits in locations where construction has been prohibited for decades. The prohibition was imposed to protect the drinking water supply for the city of Sarajevo.
However, these prohibitions have only applied to those who either lacked money or were unwilling to bribe the municipal administration. How else can one explain the countless ordinary citizens of this municipality who, despite owning land in attractive locations, have been unable to legally build anything, not even family homes? As soon as that land is purchased by some wealthy Middle Eastern or domestic "investor," they suddenly obtain all the necessary construction permits overnight.
One banal example is that of a young married couple from the Lužani settlement in Ilidža. After returning from abroad with enough earned money to build a house on their family land, which is located in close proximity to Velika Aleja, the municipal administration did not allow them to construct it. The explanation was that it is a water protection zone, and construction was prohibited. Just a few meters away from their land, a Middle Eastern investor easily built a residential building without any issues.
Today, several years later, this married couple with two young children live as tenants, without the possibility of building a house on their own land, while the wealthy investor sells luxury apartments in the newly constructed building.
ARRESTED AND RELEASED
After serving two terms as the mayor and half a term as an ambassador, the former mayor of Ilidža Municipality, Senaid Memić, was arrested for favouring certain "investors." The wealthy investors, both foreign and domestic, were not arrested. Senaid Memić was soon released from prison due to illness.
"Senaid Memić is accused of unlawfully issuing multiple permits related to the construction of buildings for Panamera and Malak Group investors, as well as the Ilidža Municipality parking lot, which was given for use to the UO Brajlović", stated the Prosecutor's Office of Sarajevo Canton after Memić's arrest. In the meantime, he was placed in pretrial detention and transferred to Zenica Penitentiary. However, his detention was soon revoked due to his health condition.
The charges against Senaid Memić are just a fraction of what he did within the municipality he ruled with authority. Most of those involved will not be held accountable, including the investors who received favourable treatment in order to obtain construction permits legally.
CORRUPTION PAYS OFF
None of the individuals who obtained construction permits from Ilidža Municipality, in locations where construction is prohibited, have been officially suspected or charged.
The "investors" had no issues constructing residential and commercial buildings where they either sold or are still selling luxury apartments and commercial spaces. The price per square meter exceeds 3,000 KM without VAT.
These "investors" faced no sanctions even when they built on a national monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Apartments in those buildings were sold or are being sold, and the commercial spaces were rented out or sold. Profit was guaranteed.
Even when Senaid Memić was seen arranging a construction permit in front of journalists, it didn't raise any concerns for anyone. The name of the person for whom he was arranging the permit was blurred on the recording, but it remained accessible to the relevant authorities. However, evidently, these facts were not of interest to anyone.
Construction was allowed even in the bed of the Željeznica River. The well-known restaurant "Brajlović" in Ilidža was built within the water zone of this river. The restaurant's outdoor terrace is located almost within the riverbed. Naturally, the terrace gets flooded almost every year, and the restaurant owner can easily seek compensation for the damages from the Municipality.
The same was done with the parking lot next to the Brajlović restaurant, which was constructed within the water zone of the Željeznica River.
Endangering the drinking water
The practice initiated by Mayor Memić has been continued by the new authorities in Ilidža and the Sarajevo Canton. The new mayor, Nermin Muzur, along with the Sarajevo Canton Government, believes that the water protection zone of the Saraj-polje water source should be reduced in order to protect the water source and "free up" land for construction purposes.
Due to public reaction, the decision to amend the 1987 Decision on the Protection of the Sarajevsko Polje Water Source has been temporarily suspended and is expected to be presented to the Sarajevo Canton Assembly by the end of the month. The amendment to this decision opens the door to construction in the central part of Ilidža. Regardless of the amendments, Ilidža still faces the problem of a complete lack of interest from relevant institutions in preventing illegal construction and waste disposal in the first water protection zone.
For several years now, an illegal construction waste landfill has been established near the water reservoirs in Sokolović Kolonija in Ilidža. In previous years, this practice was facilitated by the decision of Mayor Senaid Memić, who allowed the company Mevludin Komerc to dispose of waste at this location. With the change of government, the new mayor revoked the decision, but that did not prevent the company from continuing its operations.
Although the new authorities announced a determined fight against illegal construction at the beginning of their mandate, this struggle has resulted in the legalization of illegal structures through amendments to zoning plans and the facilitation of legal land purchases on which these illegal structures were built. The new authorities do not mind supporting the operations of illegal structures.
None of the structures built on national monuments, in the riverbed or water belt of the Željeznica River, within the water protection zone in the Ilidža municipality, have been demolished, nor have the owners of these structures been held accountable for how they obtained the necessary construction permits. Corruption has paid off for them as they continue to operate and make a good profit without any consequences.