During this year, North Macedonia expects an increased development of its road infrastructure, including putting into use of several new roads that were being built in the past few years. Despite the usual delays during the implementation of the projects due to the common problems that were bolstered last year with the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2021, the improvement of the road infrastructure will be especially visible in the country’s eastern part.

The express road Štip – Kochani is a new road with a length of 28 km and the whole road will be put into use during this year. The first phase of this express road was approved for use in the summer of 2020 while the additional 13.7 km, from Krupishte village to Kochani, will be finished during 2021.

During the first months of 2021, the first phase of the express road Štip-Radoviš in the length of 23 km will be put into use, between Sofilari village and Buchim mine. This infrastructural project is one of the rare roads in the country that will be finished before the set deadline and the second phase of this road, in the length of 16.9 km, is being built expediently. The Austrian company Strabag began the construction works last year and it is expected the people to begin using the new road between Štip and Radoviš by the start of 2022.

Regarding the country’s eastern part, it should be mentioned that the building of Corridor 8 towards Bulgaria, where the reconstruction of the current and the building of new parts of the road between Kumanovo and the border crossing Deve Bair is expected to continue during 2021. At the moment, the state is investing around 90 million EUR in express road connections with Bulgaria and all projects should be finished by 2022.

Between these locations, during this year, the reconstruction of the current road from Kumanovo and Rankovce, with the length of 31.8 km, that is planned to connect with the previously reconstructed road from Rankovce to Kriva Palanka is planned to be finished. In 2021, the reconstruction and the upgrade of the current road from Kriva Palanka to border crossing Deve Bair, which is planned to be finished by the start of 2022, continue. Until this deadline, the new express road Rankovce – Kriva Palanka is also planned to be put into use. This road is being built in two phases with a length of 25 km. Half of the construction works are finished.

Unlike the timely construction of the roads in the East, the development of the road infrastructure in the western part of the country is a different story. The Kichevo-Ohrid motorway, according to the current annex for its building from the Chinese company Sinohidro was supposed to be finished by the 30th of June 2021. It is evident that this deadline will not be met by the Chinese company and Meta.mk already informed that during this period analyses are being made about the additional period that the contractor and the subcontractors will require for this road to be finally put into use.

The Kicevo-Ohrid motorway still under construction. Photo: Bojan Blazhevski

The motorway that costs 598 million EUR is part of the pan European Corridor 8 that is passing through Macedonia and its deadline will certainly be extended after the 30th of June 2021. So far, 350 million EUR were spent on the construction works at the Kichevo-Ohrid motorway and during the presentation of the Ministry for Transport and Communications’ 2021 budget, Minister Blagoja Bochvarski promised that the first 20 km of this highway will be put into use during this year. This refers to the section from Ohrid to Vrbjani village, which was supposed to be put into use last year.

There are other delays in the country’s western part, with the express road Gradsko-Prilep, which is built in three stages. The section between Farishka Gorge and Drenovska Gorge have to be completed in two years.

The construction works between lag behind. Photo> PESR

So far, only 35% of this road have been finished. An almost identical percentage of the road was reached in the second phase of this express road, at the section from Gradsko to Drenovo, where one third of the total construction activities were finished. In 2021, the building of this section should continue including the construction works from the third phase starting from Trojaci to Prilep in the length of 7.5 km. What is highly likely is that the set deadline for finishing the express road Gradsko-Prilep will not be met by the end of this year.

Regarding the important projects concerning the road infrastructure, what is expected of the Public Enterprise for State Roads for 2021 is to speed up the building of the Skopje-Blace motorway and the start of the construction of  Gostivar-Kichevo motorway.

The year 2021 will be very important for the complete implementation of the electronic pay toll system on all motorways in Macedonia. In December 2020, the Public Enterprise for State Roads – PESR signed an agreement with the Turkish-Macedonian consortium consisting of Aselan company from Turkey and Žikol from Strumica, that wil to implement the electronic system for the pay tolls on Corridor 8, but also to build two pay toll stations on the Miladinovci-Štip motorway and one pay toll station on the Kichevo -Ohrid motorway. With the agreement in the amount of 12.5 million EUR, the pay toll will be paid with electronic devices on all motorways, as is done in the developed countries.