Two months ago in Pristina, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Macedonia, Zoran Zaev, made a promise in the form of a statement, which from today’s viewpoint is inconsistent:
We hope that we will finish Skopje-Pristina motorway soon. We endeavour to make the 12.5 km long section Skopje-Blace follow the construction dynamics of the section from Pristina to the border
[Source: Government of RM’s website, date: 12 December 2017]
The Premier Zoran Zaev made this statement after the meeting with the Prime Minister of Kosovo Ramush Haradinaj, after which they both attended a meeting with businesspersons from Kosovo and addressed them. In a press conference after the meeting with Haradinaj, Zaev made a similar statement regarding the Skopje-Blace motorway:
On behalf of the citizens, especially the businesspersons in the Republic of Macedonia, during the meeting with the Prime Minister Haradinaj I delivered the message for intensifying the economic cooperation and increasing trade exchange between the two neighboring countries.
We agreed that it is necessary to improve the infrastructure that connects us. On our part, we expressed readiness to continue working on the Skopje-Blace motorway.
Why the statement/promise is inconsistent from today’s point of view? Just a day ago, on 14 February 2018, the Government of the RM published two pieces of information on its website – the first from the 54th session and the second one from the meeting of the Macedonian Minister of Economy Kreshnik Bekteshi and Kosovo’s Minister of Entrepreneurship and Innovativeness Besim Bechaj.
Both pieces of information confirm that the 12-13 km long motorway (there isn’t specific information on the length) from Skopje to Blace will be under construction for nearly 4 years:
The Government reviewed and adopted the Information on the progress of activities in the implementation of the Action plan for the project “Construction of Skopje-Blace motorway”, with projection to start the construction in the second half of 2019 and finish it by the end of 2022. (Press release from Government’s 54th session)
On the other hand, the 60 km long motorway from Pristina to the border with Macedonia, whose official name will be “Arben Xhaferi” after the former leader of the Democratic Party of the Albanians (DPA), will be finished by the end of 2018. Although there are still unfinished works, eyewitnesses who regularly travel on this route, as well as official sources, claim that the construction, which began in 2014, will be finished by the end of 2018:
Ela Ruchi, spokeswoman of Bechtel-Enka, the Turkish-American consortium building this motorway, says that the works follow the dynamics stipulated in the agreement.
“The works follow a program defined alongside with the Ministry of Infrastructure, with which we agreed that the final opening ceremony, i.e. the finalization of the construction works will take place by the end of 2018.” (Ruchi’s statement for RFE, republished by Portalb)
If you search a little bit about the Blace-Skopje motorway construction timeframe, you can find the following data: motorway’s design has been done more than three years ago, and was promised back in 2013-2014, when Nikola Gruevski stated that they are seeking for concessioner of the motorway:
A call for concessioner of the motorway sections Gostivar-Kichevo and Skopje-Blace is expected to be published this year.
In his appearance in the “Top Tema na Vasha strana” debate show on Telma TV, the incumbent Minister of transport and communications Goran Sugareski stated that there have been problems with the previous motorway project, which had encroached on industrial and cemetery zone:
There is an apparent oversight in the drafting of the project. Therefore, now, when people ask me when the Skopje-Blace motorway will be completed, I say – we are drafting a new project, because it has been established that a part of the roadbed enters the Vizbegovo zone, enters a cemetery… And we must fix that by re-drafting. There, we have obtained half a million euros for re-drafting, so when the construction begins, it should to begin without any issues regarding those 13 kilometers… The re-drafting will last until September or October (2018, our remark) so we could publish a tender swiftly afterwards, I’m talking about an international tender, international companies can apply, so the construction can begin immediately after the tender. (around min. 9 and around min. 20 in the conversation)
Given the data, action plans and information published publicly so far, it’s completely clear that the authorities plan to spend nearly four years building the motorway – the current re-drafting activities in 2018, then publishing a tender, then starting the construction in the second half of 2019, and after all of that, if everything goes according to plan “by the end of 2022.”
Due to these arguments, it’s completely clear that the construction dynamics of the Skopje-Blace motorway cannot follow the construction dynamics of the “Arben Xhaferi” motorway, hence we deem the statement/promise made in Pristina by the Prime Minister Zoran Zaev two months ago as inconsistent.
- Website of the Government of the Republic of Macedonia – Од 54-та седница на Владата –[Accessed on 15 February 2018]
- Website of the Government of the Republic of Macedonia – Премиерот Заев пред претставниците на бизнис заедницата на Косово:… –[Accessed on 15 February 2018]
- Portalb – Pristina Motorway – Хани и Елезит, подготвен кон крајот на 2018 година, останува делот од Македонија–[Accessed on 15 February 2018]
- Telma TV – Топ тема на Ваша страна – интервју со Сугаревски –[Accessed on 15 February 2018]
- Public Enterprise for State Roads – Ставен камен темелник на Автопатот Кичево-Охрид–[Accessed on 15 February 2018]
Assessed by: Teofil Blazhevski