What happened to the road leading to the Oklace village in Zubin Potok?

asfalt Oklace

The municipality of Zubin Potok, spanning an area of ​​332 square kilometres, counts almost 70 villages and hamlets scattered on the slopes of the mountains surrounding the municipality – Mokra Gora and Rogozna.

As a result of the highlanders’ difficult life, the majority of these villages are losing inhabitants with each passing year.

The lack of asphalt roads, poor electrical energy supply, poor phone signal, are prompting young people to leave these areas, while the elderly households are slowly dying out.

The breathtaking nature is not an ally either, especially when it snows or rains. Also, the political crisis in the relations between Belgrade and Pristina, especially in the last couple of years, inevitably has an effect on this mountain population, even though they are on the margins of both systems.

In recent years, the residents of Oklace have reached out to KoSSev on several occasions, expressing a desire to speak out about their misfortunes, in the hope that the „head honchos“ will hear them out.

They raised the same issue time and time again – road.

Either they would be snowed in, in which case they made to and cleaned up the road themselves, or that bad road would be washed away by water.

When the former mayor of Zubin Potok boasted on August 14, 2021, with photos from the field, that he and his colleagues visited the works on the paving of the almost 4.5 kilometre road to Oklace, some residents of this village complained to us that reportedly three kilometres of that road is still unpaved, that is, that it has yet to be asphalted.

This time, they also complained about the poor quality of the asphalt that was laid a year ago, and there are still about two kilometres of dirt road near the hamlet of Janković in this village.

We spoke to some of the remaining residents in this gradually dying village, currently the home of around 40 locals, about the same ordeal again – the fact that the village was almost cut off from the rest of civilisation due to the road’s bad condition.

The asphalt is of poor quality, and scattered with potholes.

They say that they informed the municipal authorities about this ongoing issue.

„But nothing came out of it. No one is willing to take any measures to fix it.“

When we contacted the former municipal authorities in January two years ago when the village was snowed in and cut off from the rest of the municipality, the then management assured us that they were doing everything they could do to help.

„Thank you for your concern, we should be in citizen’s service together!“ – they underlined.

At that time, however, they failed to respond to our question about the paving of this road.

In response to our inquiries regarding the plight of these residents, the current mayor of Zubin Potok, Izmir Zeqiri, told us that when it comes to previous roads, including the road from last year, the municipal services he now manages had no jurisdiction.

„However, we think about all the citizens of Zubin Potok and our priorities are the roads in the entire municipality of Zubin Potok,“ he said in a statement for KoSSev.

We also reached out to the former mayor of Zubin Potok, Srdjan Vulović, bearing in mind that the Serbian side worked on the road last year as well, although the contractors were Albanian. However, by the time this news was published, no answer had arrived.

To our follow-up question, whether he would strive to do anything to fix the problem of the road to this village, Zeqiri said:

„Everything that the procedures allow us to do, we will do,“ without providing any further details.

However, after Albanian mayors in the north took office, new roads were built in the north, such as the one from Vidomiriće to Banov Dol; or from Srbica to Zubin Potok, i.e. Lake Gazivode.

And while the locals linked these roads with the need for Kosovo forces to have a faster path to Gazivode, or to Serb-majority areas in general, Kosovo Minister of Infrastructure Liburn Aliu stated:

„The higher number of roads, the better communication, and therefore more services and safety for citizens who will be able to move easily.“

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