A BROCHURE ‘USE THE GAS CAREFULLY’ IS PUBLISHED // 02. 1995.
BECIR GRIBAJCEVIC // THE GAS COMPANY
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

February 1995

Becir Gribajcevic
The Gas Company
A BROCHURE ‘USE THE GAS CAREFULLY’ IS PUBLISHED

‘In that enormous wartime extension of the gas network, mostly on the basis of improvised hookups, using improvised material, a number of places in the city became highly dangerous. Whole buildings could blow up. In fact it happened. I told you that we tried to take some kind of control of the situation, and we were fairy successful, at least we didn’t have a huge catastrophe. Since there was so little material to carry out repairs the only thing to do was to try and educate people, show people what to do in our improvised conditions. We began by issuing a leaflet in 30,000 copies and it was delivered to every family, in the first place on the outskirts of the town because that’s where most gas explosions happened. We were fairly successful, I can’t say that there were no more explosions but there were fewer, and people did begin to understand how to handle their gas installations. I forgot to tell you the most dangerous element in all this, which was the irregularity of the gas supply. It was turned off and on quite randomly. This could be done quite easily because all the gas came in through one valve in Kasinodol Street, and that was under Serb control. The danger was particularly great in the evenings when people went to bed and often forgot to turn off the gas, and in the morning when they wanted to light a candle or a cigarette they caused an explosion.’

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FEBRUARY 1995


• The Bosnian Serbs remember that 50 % of the goods should belong to them if they sign an authorization to open the path across the airport.
• “Sarajevogas” issues a brochure on the use of gas to educate citizens, “Use gas carefully,” in 30,000 copies.


• The government of Yugoslavia issues a statement on its wish to close the “Josip Broz Tito” memorial center.
• The tomb of Alexander the Great is found, near the oasis of Siva, 750 km west of Cairo.
• The English and Spanish monarch have honorary mounted guards - , Croatian president Franjo Tudjman now has one as well.


• France and the U.S. seek to organize an international conference on the former Yugoslavia. This is only one among a number of plans the U.S considers.


• Designer Josip Nosse fashions a device providing security for high and low pressure home gas installations.


• In Russia negotiations are held on the delivery of gas to Bosnia.


• Combat episode involving two UN observers: A Nigerian kills a Finn, because he is mentally deranged.


• Black market in Sarajevo: Dealers will not accept dollars, but give them back as change in sales and sell them. The value of the Swiss frank falls.
• The road across the Sarajevo airport is open from 10am-12pm and from 3-5pm.


• An American space shuttle approaches within 12 km of the Russian space station “Mir”.


• The “blue routes” are a surrogate for freedom. The “city train” operates, providing free transportation.


• Momcilo Krajisnik, one of the leading figures of the SDS, says of the terror in Sarajevo:
“… The war must end in Sarajevo, just as it began there.”
• After the rejection of the peace plan in Pale, the international community deals directly with Slobodan Milosevic, the president of Serbia.


• Shells and snipers batter the city.
• Arrest of Svetlana Boskovic, a UNHCR staffer, who had passed on to Bosnian Serbs information on the names of passengers in UN vehicles on their way to the airport.


• The UNHCR recommends that drivers, Bosnians, not drive trucks of humanitarian aid from the airport into the city as a result of which a crisis involving overfilled warehouses ensues.


• NATO will practice its eventual military support of UN troops before their withdrawal from Bosnia through “computer maneuvers” from the 13th to the 21st of February behind closed doors at Ramstein base.


• The Contact Group is informed by the Bosnian Serb Assembly that they have rejected their plan with a vote of 44 to 6.
• The road in Hrasnica is filled with smugglers and regular citizens who shop in Hrasnica.


• UN report: The ARBiH protects the border of the Bihac safe area.


• Snipers fire at the tram


• The international community in dealing with Slobodan Milosevic makes the recognition of BiH and Croatia a condition for the lifting of sanctions.


• “Type A” flu arrives from China.


• UN report: 5,700 people a day cross the road across Sarajevo airport.


• Announcement of vendors at the Sarajevo market: “Your frying pans no longer have to wait for fish to arrive.”


• Slobodan Milosevic: “The time has not yet come to recognize Zagreb and Sarajevo.”
• Diplomatic relations established between Sarajevo-Moscow.


• Spectacular wedding in Belgrade of Zeljko Raznjatovic, Arkan, a war criminal from Serbia whose paramilitaries killed and plundered on the battlefields of Croatia and BiH, and popular folk singer Ceca. The wedding turns into a world media spectacle..


• The transportation company “Gras” lacks the funds to pay off its debt to Elektrodistribucija. They find that now is not a good time to charge for tickets, and hence have no revenue.


• The Serbs close the road to Visoko after the UN refuses to give them 20 liters of fuel per day.
• Moscow accuses George Soros, financier and philanthropist, of being a CIA agent because his work provides long-term stipends to Russian scholars who later emigrate permanently.
• U.S. Ambassador Viktor Jakovich, on “Krug 99”: “BiH is defending the principles of western civilization.”


• Five passengers wounded on the tram.



Heating

Cold weather and the arrival of winter brought about new arrangements in the apartments. Chimney outlets were opened even in houses with central heating. From the basements and from the attics, from friends are acquaintances, old stoves were brought. Boiler-rooms are not working. In the absence of chimneys, people fix extra flues and stick them out of their windows. Flues are lurking on streets, smoking. Cooking still continues on the balconies, among empty flower-pots, housewives stirring the fire with newspapers. The basic stove is a tin one - furuna, made by craftsmen on Bascarsija or even by self-taught masters. Material and imagination define the form, size and the purpose (for coffee, cooking, or heating). Furuna are being sold on several markets, but only for DMs. But the major problem is fuel. You cannot buy wood or coal.
During the first summer, all dry benches, trees and wooden material were collected. This fall, parks, alleys, courtyard and cemetery trees started to fall birches, poplars, ash-trees, plane-trees, plum- trees, apple-trees, cherry-trees, pear-trees, all the way down to brushwood. Wooden backs of benches in parks were taken away, frames and doors of ruined apartments, handrails from the hallways, shelves from abandoned stores and kiosks, wooden stools and bars from restaurants, even the crosses and pyramids from the cemeteries. All bombed houses and barracks were dismantled with enviable speed. But fuel is still scarce. Those who were wise took scrap wood from their garages early in the summer. Now paper versions are being manufactured. Plastic bags, a part of US lunch packages - a leftover from the Persian Gulf War - can heat five liters of water... UNHCR supplied the city with a numerous but not sufficient thermal foils for windows. On every window, from the outside, one can read their name: UNHCR - they are the owners of our lives. November temperatures were very nice. Meteorologists have informed us they were very high, by comparison with times no one remembers any more: about 9 degrees C (Centigrade) in the apartment. It was warmer to take a walk then to sit inside. Fortunately, everyone can get warm while searching for water and wood.

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