SECRET CABLES THROUGH UNDERGROUND CHANNELS // 12. 1993.
MIRSAD BRAJLOVIC // ELECTRIC COMPANY
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

December 1993

Mirsad Brajlovic
Electric Company
SECRET CABLES THROUGH UNDERGROUND CHANNELS

‘Some connected to those priority points, some connected directly to above the ground networks and some managed to connect by the cables below ground, using inappropriate cables which were extremely dangerous, and they managed to get into sub-stations and have electricity round the clock. We managed to catch those people. However it was a huge area and we didn’t manage to eliminate all those customers. I can mention an example where some tried to connect to high voltage cables. To ten volts, but by some chance no accidents happened.’

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DECEMBER 1993


• Peace negotiations in Geneva: negotiations on maps and percentages of territory. The BiH delegation requests: access to the sea, to the Sava and to a harbor.


• Yasushi Akashi appointed Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General for the former Yugoslavia.


• UNICEF helps establish a radio-school. Classes are held over this medium.


• Rounds of humanitarian aid to the citizens of Sarajevo include: a liter of cooking oil, 300 grams of beans, 200 grams of sugar, 400 grams of mackarel, 200 grams of detergent, and 2 candles per household.


• “Opresa” opens a small store in the city with the slogan “Life is about the small things”.
• The Soros Foundation donates a piano to the organization “Nasa djeca”.


• Mate Boban, President of “Herzeg-Bosnia”, promises to close camps holding Muslims.


• Founding of counseling for psychological help: “Staying Sane in Bosnia”.


• The theft of electricity in the city goes on in different ways: setting up of illegal connections, underground cables, connecting to prioritized sources and transformers.
• The Soros Foundation finances the production of 10 tons of rat poison. The active toxin is “Sanofarm”, but because the poison is not registered by law it cannot be distributed.


• “Oslobodjenje” receives the “Sakharov” award. Zlatko Dizdarevic, journalist and editor, receives the award at the European Parliament.
• The fairytale “A Dragon in Love” is shown in one of the apartment blocks in Alipasino polje.


• The bobsled team trains for the Olympic Games in Lillehammer, but do not know how to leave Sarajevo. They train every day, lift weights and run, depending on the shelling. On average they lose 5 kg of weight. The team must borrow a bobsled because theirs is burnt.


• The Russians reveal their own peace plan. Foreign Minister Vitali Churkin travels extensively in major European cities.


• Croatian President, Franjo Tudjman, and Serbian President, Slobodan Milosevic, present a plan on the division of BiH. 33.33% would go to the Muslims and 17.5% to the Croats. Lord Owen must convey this plan to the President of the Presidency of BiH, Alija Izetbegovic.


• The Sarajevo Tobacco Factory wraps cigarettes in book pages. “Toward the History of BiH Literature” is next in line”.


• In Sarajevo Cathedral a ceremonial Christmas concert is held.
• On the occasion of Catholic Christmas, the Pope sends a message: “Let light shine on upon the suffering peoples.”


• The city lacks electricity, water and salt for bread.


• The Festival “Sarajevo Winter” organizes screening of cartoons for children.
• A kitchen opened for people working in the public and culture sectors. UNPROFOR gives them food.

Sarajevo by Night

SARAJEVO BY NIGHT means that life follows the line or the sun. Without civilization based on inventions of two Americans - Tesla, who was born in the neighborhood and who we are proud of, and Edison, who they are proud of - you have to learn to go to sleep early and to wake up early. So many evenings are spent in envy of those who have electricity. But Sarajevans have mastered the art of making kandilo, which is the light, usually hanging before an icon. To the Greeks have given the name - kandelos.
Recipe: Fill a glass jar, or a glass, half with water and a quarter with oil. Ten cut five to seven millimeters of a cork, and drag through it cotton string, or a carpet fringe, or any piece of burning material. In order for the wick to stay above the oil and burn, a tin strip of some two centimeters is used and placed above the jar. Through that strip runs the wick soaked in oil. Candles have burned long ago, even decorative ones. People who have saved petroleum lamps are very rare, and for them a liter of petroleum costs 30 DM. Batteries ran out at the beginning of the war. Still, they are being revived by cooking in salt water, five to ten minutes. They can come to life if connected to an automobile battery, if that one can be fed with electricity. All these tricks make batteries live five or six lives.
Of 1800 transformer stations in Sarajevo, more than half are out of use. To steal fuses is a regular thing. Three such fuses will cost you about 700 DM on the black market. Their real value is no more than 15 DM. Foreign currency is needed if you want to bring electricity from the station to the lobby of your house. To plug into a system, in all kinds of weird ways, is very fashionable. Another way is to run cables. You can steal the electricity from the houses which have it - on the right side of the street, and bring in to the houses which don’t on the left side. That has its price too, sometimes a deadly one. Some steal oil from the transformer stations to replace car fuel. To have a car battery in the apartment, that is a real treat. A radio can be plugged into it - and turned on ever hour, for the news. This battery is the source of light, too. Those less capable attach to it stronger bulbs and soon understand that the battery is drained too quickly. As time goes by, we all learned, and here is the advice - take the smallest bulb, like the one from the inside of a car. And carefully watch your lighter. You’ll need it, it, if not for lighting a cigarette, then surely to climb the staircases.

THE “ELEKTROPRIVREDA” BUILDING

Electricity was a rare guest in the city. The citizens made do with car batteries, candles given by humanitarian organizations, home- made oil lamps which required small amounts of edible oil and bits of shoestring, and with a variety of more or less successful inventions. Some people used battery and the so called “SOROS” lamps which required solar energy. Although there was plenty of solar energy the lamps had little capacity and quickly broke down. In the hilly parts of the city people built mini power-generating plants. The “Elektroprivreda” building was on the front line, next to the bridge which borders with the occupied Grbavica district and it was frequently shelled.

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