Фото: Мета.мк

The first 82 days since Mayor Danela Arsovska took over the helm of Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia, expired on Friday, the 28th of January, which prompted Meta.mk to check on site whether one of the most important promises that Arsovska gave in her election campaign was fulfilled: cleanup of the illegal dumps throughout Skopje.

During her election campaign, Danela Arsovska several times gave her promise to eradicate the illegal dumps in Skopje. On the 10th of October last year she stated:

“We shall clean all the illegal landfills and dumps in the first 82 days and we shall revitalize those locations as clean, green spaces,” she stated in the post on the social media, which was republished by a number of Macedonian media outlets.

Indeed, during the past 82 days, the City Hall of Skopje did put in effort and, also, on several occasions published press releases about the cleanups of various locations throughout the capital.

The last of the illegal landfills that were eradicated by the city administration was the bank of River Vardar near the railway bridge between the villages of Gorno Lisiche and Trubarevo. 4 000 cubic meters of waste and construction debris were collected at this location of 13 000 square meters.

“So far, more than 120 mapped illegal landfills and dumps throughout Skopje were subject to cleanup. They were mapped and cleaned and actions are being undertaken to prevent any further creation of dumps on these locations. There is an increased monitoring and, of course, large fines in force for those disobeying the law,” says the reply that Meta.mk received from the City Hall of Skopje to our query ten days ago  about the cleanup of the illegal landfills and dumps scattered throughout the capital.

In the meantime, the cleaning of the illegal dumps is continuing at several locations throughout the municipalities in the Skopje area, so on the 25th of January, Meta.mk’s team decided to visit and inspect some of the critical sites in and around Skopje and to check whether these were cleaned up by the city’s authorities.

The first location we visited was the bank of River Vardar in Karposh 3 and Karposh 4 quarts. We found at least several sites where primarily construction waste is being illegally dumped and which haven’t been cleaned. The first location with construction waste is located across the place where the new bridge, planned as a continuation of the Ljubljanska Street, is being built. We also came across a smaller illegal dump near the Ilinden Boulevard, between the barracks and the newly built buildings, but also at the location where the new park, that has been promised to the citizens of Karposh municipality for a long time, should be built.

Several minor illegal dumps noticed in Karposh 4 near the riverbank; Photo: Meta.mk

Actually, the location for the future park, starting from the facilities of the Public enterprise “Water Supply and Sewage” to the sports playgrounds along the bank River Vardar has been turned into several smaller landfills. It is evident at the site that this place has been cleaned from waste several times, but obviously, some people are still dumping waste here in Karposh.

We continued our tour toward Vizbegovo, along the road that leads from Vizbegovo to Shuto Orizari. The whole area between the municipalities of Butel and Shuto Orizari and under the auspices of the City Hall of Skopje and the municipality of Chucher Sandevo is part of the Skopje Planning Region. The position of this site is ideal for illegal disposing of enormous quantities of waste since that has been happening for years, while the municipalities has been passing the responsibility to clean the illegal landfills and dumps one to another.

The whole length of road from the outskirts of Vizbegovo up to Shuto Orizari is littered on the both sides with all kinds of waste – construction debris, old furniture, communal waste, and enormous bags with unidentified content. Going along the road, we came across an illegal dump where one citizen from Vizbegovo was collecting plastic bottles to take them for sale as selected waste.

This citizen, who wished to remain anonymous, told us that the scattered waste is taken from Shuto Orizari and is dumped on the location. Meta.mk’s team went through this area and it noticed the absence of PE Communal Hygiene’s trash containers even though this municipality is part of the city of Skopje.

Nevertheless, the scattered waste near Vizbegovo was cleaned on several occasions, and in the past, it was done with public funds when Petre Shilegov was the Mayor of Skopje, but judging from the situation, it is obvious that at the moment a systematic solution hasn’t been found for the problem with waste management in Shuto Orizari.

Meta.mk’s team then went to the area from Butel towards Smilkovsko Lake, which is also a location that is under the auspices of the City of Skopje. The road that runs parallel to the Ring Road of Skopje, in the area between Butel and Smilkovsko Lake has been turned into one enormous illegal landfill with all kinds of waste. At the location itself, one cannot see any intervention by the authorities to remove the waste, and the enormous quantities of scattered waste are hindering the movements of the vehicles on the road. In this area, we saw scattered waste all the way to Smilkovsko Lake.

During our tour, we noticed that the city’s authorities will have to work also on providing communal waste containers in the Topaana in the municipality of Chair. At this location, the citizens are dumping waste at the main street and PE Communal Hygiene’s waste contains cannot be seen there. Because of this, the city’s authorities will have to solve the problem with the waste-collecting for the people of Topaana settlement.

We continued our tour throughout Skopje at the Driver Training Centre under the US Embassy in the municipality of Centar. The authorities have planted new trees at Lazar Lichenovski Street to prevent the disposal of waste, but the situation on the field shows that the hill under the embassy is still “decorated” with scattered waste. As seen from the opposite, left bank, of River Vardar, the waste that can be noticed across the hill under the embassy is making Skopje look a lot more like an African rather than a European capital city.

Additionally, at the Driver Training Centre near the Skopje Fortress, we came across all kinds of scattered waste, but in smaller quantities. We came across a suitcase without its owner, a burnt armchair, a broken umbrella, and a three-piece suite where people who are learning to drive, can use them for “rest.”

From the inspection that we conducted on the 25th of January 2022 throughout Skopje, it can be concluded that the illegal landfills and dumps haven’t been cleaned completely. Enormous is the task that awaits the Mayor of Skopje, especially at the locations between Vizbegovo and Shuto Orizari as well as the route from Butel toward Smikovsko Lake. The effort put into thoroughly cleaning the illegal landfills and dumps throughout Skopje’s municipalities should be praised, but the City Hall of Skopje and the PE “Komunalna higiena” (Communal Hygiene) have to put in a lot more effort in the future in order to clean other locations.

Meta.mk has been informing for years about the issue with the illegal landfills in Skopje and it has been actively following this issue. This is done even more because these illegal landfills are often set on fire, thus polluting the air that the people breathe. In the areas on the outskirts of Skopje, PE Communal Hygiene will have to place much more waste containers and regularly collect the garbage as often as it does in the urbanized parts of the city, such as Karposh, Centar, and Aerodrom.

Also, the city’s authorities will have to find ways of placing video monitoring systems at those locations that are cleaned and but the citizens continue to dump waste. This way, they will be able to record all of the people that are dumping waste and are polluting the environment. Apart from the cameras, at the locations where waste is illegaly dumped, barricades will have to be placed – concrete fences, concrete pillars and other types of obstaclest that will preven vehicles from accessing the locations. If the City Hall of Skopje wants to, it can implement it at the several locations between Vizbegovo and Shuto Orizari, but also at the cleaned location near the Railway bridge between Lisiche and Trubarevo.

In the end, the City Hall of Skopje will have to stuff its Inspectorate with additional inspectors personnel, drones and other appropriate equipment. This will help them mitigate the situation at the given critical locations turned into landfills both day and night. From our tour, it is obvious that fining the perpetrators and the constant presence and monitoring of these areas are the measures that can prevent any further creation of illegal landfills and dumps in Skopje.

Author: Bojan Blaževski