The scattered waste at Vardarishte, photograph taken on 9th January 2023 by Meta.mk
The current Mayor of Gazi Baba municipality, Boban Stefkovski, in his electoral campaign for the local elections that took place in October 2021, promised a cleanup of former Skopje’s landfill Vardarishte and building a sports and recreation center in that specific location. These statements given by Mayor Stefkovski are untrue. Vardarishte has not been transformed into a sports and recreation center, while waste is still dumped in certain spots and there are also fires, causing pollution.
In the interview given to the portal Infomax, as published by Kurir on 25th August 2021, Boban Stefkovski, the mayoral candidate of the VMRO-DPMNE, party, says: ”My ambition is also to turn the landfill Vardarishte, which was a frequent problem in the past, into a new sports and recreation center”.
Only a few days later, on 7 September 2021, Republika.mk published an article about the Manifesto of VMRO-DPMNE’s candidate for mayor of the Municipality of Gazi Baba, Boban Stefkovski. He promised that in the upcoming four years of his term, all illegal dumping sites on the territory of this local self-government unit will be cleaned up, that Vardarishte landfill will be closed and that a sports and recreation center will be built in its place.
To check how the realization of this promise given by Mayor Boban Stefkovski is going on, Meta.mk sent emails – on three occasions – to the Municipality of Gazi Baba. Requests for answers were sent on 30th November, 5th December, and 9th December, but the Municipality did not respond to the posed questions to date.
We asked the Mayor what had been done, up to date by Gazi Baba Municipality about the cleanup of the former landfill and the prevention of fires, but also what has the local self-government done to build the promised sports and recreation center.
No reply was received, but Meta.mk visited Vardarishte on 9th January 2023. We saw that no sports and recreation centre was constructed, nor was the entire solid waste dumped by irresponsible citizens removed from the given site. Also, from the photograph taken with a drone, one can clearly see that waste was still burning on this site, thereby polluting the air in Skopje.
Scattered waste on Vardarishte, photographed on 9th January 2023; Photo by Meta.mk
We noticed that new buildings were in construction at Vardarishte, but the transformation of the landfill into a sports and recreation center had not started.
Otherwise, the Detailed Urban Plan (DUP) of the site Vardarishte was adopted by the local authorities of the Skopje Municipality of Gazi Baba in 2020. On 28th May 2020, the newspaper Vecher published that the Municipal Council of Gazi Baba will vote on the Detailed Urban Plan SI 09, block 1 projected for putting up parks and sports facilities. Proof of the adopted DUP for this site in 2020 can be found on the website of the Gazi Baba Municipality as an attachment related to Vardarishte.
For the location of the previous landfill of Skopje, but also a current site for illegal dumping and burning solid waste, thereby polluting the air in the settlements Novo Lisiche, Lisiche, Vardarishite and Keramidnica, the DUP provides for sports and recreation facilities on seven such land plots. The total area of these plots is 135,277 square meters, while the area for the sport-recreational centre is 43,910 square meters. The sports facilities to be erected can consist of ground space plus one floor. Apart from sports activities, аll plots provide for compatible use of objects such as small commercial and business units, large trading units, large catering facilities, business office space, hotel compounds, areas for gatherings and cultural events as well as parks and green areas.
The current DUP for Vardarishte provides plots for green parks. Green areas are planned within the seven plots intended for sports and recreational facilities, but also a special plot with an area of 9,413 square meters is planned for a park. For Vardarishte additional protective green areas are planned.
Boban Stefkovski took over the position of Mayor of the Municipality Gazi Baba on 25th October 2021, and his term will last until October 2025 i.e., he has less than three years to fulfill his promise and transform Vardarishte ino a sports and recreation center.
The information in the current DUP for Vardarishte clarify that his promised sports and recreation center is, in actual fact, an enormous space of over 135,000 square meters that has to be fully cleaned up from waste, the land has to be completely rehabilitated from the enormous quantities of buried waste. Then, for each of the seven plots planed for sports facilities, blueprints have to be produced – by the Municipality Gazi Baba or to announce a public call for concluding a private-public partnership for potential developers for the seven planned sports and recreation facilities.
Then, on each plot objects for sports and recreation have to be constructed. It means a few months for calls for tender for each plot, then a certain period of time for the construction works, having in mind that one of the parcels provides for a facility with a total area for development of fantastic 66,157 square meters.
To complete a sports and recreation center of such a scale, one needs to work on its implementation from day one after being elected a mayor. After visiting Vardarishte – on 9th January 2023 – we realized that construction works of the sports and recreation center were not even initiated on any of the seven building locations. Moreover, the place was still used for dumping waste, which has not even been cleaned up by the competent authorities.
On the basis of the above-noted arguments, the conclusion is that the statement given by the current Mayor of the Municipality Gazi Baba, Boban Stefkovski – within the period prior to the 2021 elections – that he will transform Vardarishte into a sports and recreation center is untrue, i.e., the implementation of such a project has not even started.
Website of Municipality of Gazi Baba: Detailed Urban Plan SI 09, block 1, checked 14.12.2022.
Kurir.mk (25.8.2021): Interview with the candidate for Mayor of Municipality Gazi Baba, Boban Stefkovski: I will listen to the citizens; with cost-effective work, a great deal can be done, checked on 14.12.2022.
Republika.mk (7.9.2021): Stefkovski: In Gazi Baba even now one can feel the positive energy for a convincing victory of VMRO-DPMNE, checked 14.12.2022.
Vecer (28.5.2020): Will sports facilities and parks be erected on the environmental ulcer “Vardarishte”?, checked 14.12.2022.
MIA.mk (25.10.2021): Stefkovski: Gazi Baba will be a modern and developed municipality – an infrastructural pride of Skopje, checked 14.12.2022.