Monday, 18 December 2017 | News today: 14

Misajlovski: Highways are being built throughout the country, over EUR 1 billion have been invested

It is true that the Republic of Macedonia has been turned into a huge construction site. If one pays a visit to the sites, they will notice that it is being built in all regions of the country. Generally, we remain on the same course, there must be and there will be investments in infrastructure, says Transport Minister Vlado Misajlovski in an interview with "Republika"

Minister Misajlovski, over the past few years, Macedonia has been literally turned into a huge construction site. How big is the investment cycle in road and railway infrastructure?

MISAJLOVSKI: It is true that the Republic of Macedonia has been turned into a huge construction site. If one pays a visit to the sites, they will notice that it is being built in all regions of the country. The investment cycle that continuously lasts for several years exceeds one billion euros. It includes investments in road, railway and communal infrastructure, or capital investments only in our portfolio. It involves the construction of highways, regional roads, railroads, procurement of new trains and construction or reconstruction of sewerage and water supply systems wherever needed. Generally, we remain on the same course, there must be and there will be investments in infrastructure. The Government and we as a competent ministry, in cooperation with the PE for state roads and the PE “Macedonia Road”, with whom we have excellent cooperation and that are constantly on site, will continue to invest in new projects because they are of paramount importance for the economic growth of the country and for improvement of the living conditions of the citizens.

How many roads, highways, regional and local roads are being built at the moment?

MISAJLOVSKI: We are actively working on thirty major projects in road network, highways, regional and expressways. Overall, I am pleased with the pace that construction works are moving although we would like it to be  faster, but it not always depends on the contractor. Reconstruction of Skopje – Kumanovo highway section along Corridor 10 has been ongoing for several months, an investment of 6 million euros provided by IPA funds; this month we are starting with the reconstruction of Negotino – Demir Kapija highway section, an investment worth about 5 million euros; we’ve been intensively working on Demir Kapija – Smokvica highway section, an investment of 210 million euros, as well as on the reconstruction of Smokvica – Gevgelija highway section, an investment of 4.2 million euros, also provided by IPA funds. At the same time, two new highways are actively being built, Miladinovci – Stip highway, worth 206 million euros and Kicevo-Ohrid highway, worth up to 374 million euros. This month we have issued a call for tenders for the reconstruction of the Gostivar – Kicevo road section. Meanwhile, the construction of the expressway from Gradsko to Prilep has begun, while the construction of the expressway from Veles to Stip is in its final stage. We are also actively working on regional roads: Bitola – Resen – Bukovo, Mokrino – Smolari, Boskov Most (Zirovnica) – Debar, Delcevo – Golak, Melnicki Most – Zupa, Krivogastani – Obrsani – Vogjani, Kocani – Delcevo, Sopiste – Govrlevo , Sredno Vodno – village of Nerezi, Skopje – Soncev Grad, Opae – Beljakovce – Stancic – border with Kosovo, Gradsko – Drenovo. Road sections Novo Selo – Mavrovo, Dojran – Nikolic, Tetovo – Brvenica- Cegrane – Gostivar and Kalista – Struga are in their final stage. Moreover, we are soon to begin with construction of expressways from Stip to Kocani and from Stip to Radovis, as well as from Rankovce to Kriva Palanka.

In terms of the local road network, we have completed the project for reconstruction of local roads through which we have built or reconstructed over 400 local roads. There are also other roads we are working on through the PE “Macedonia Road” and also next year we plan to begin with the construction of other road sections that we have promised in the work programme.

There are also investments in railway infrastructure, something that has not been tackled for decades, how much has been invested thus far, in which segments and what’s next in this section?

MISAJLOVSKI: This is the first time that this section has been approached seriously in the Republic of Macedonia. The railway is one of the important sectors because much of the traffic to Europe transits through the country. Well, it is very important to have quality railway infrastructure, which will enable fast and quality transport. We are talking about current investments worth over 200 million euros. Given that Corridor 8, which is one of the important Pan-European corridors, passes through our country, we started with the biggest investments precisely in the construction of tracks that will be an alternative to Corridor 10. The construction of the railway line from Kumanovo to Beljakovce worth 40 million euros is in progress, as well as the tender procedure for the construction of the section from Beljakovce to Kriva Palanka with an estimated value of 147 million euros, and at the same time the section from Kriva Palanka to the border with Bulgaria is being designed. In order to complete the Corridor 8, we have started designing the railway line to Albania. In terms of traffic, we have procured six new passenger trains, 150 freight trains, and a call for tender for procurement of 3 new locomotives is underway. With IPA funds, we have completed the reconstruction of 7 railway stations of Corridor 10, including the International train station in Skopje. These are serious investments in railways considering the fact that nothing has been invested in this section for decades.

vlado-misajlovski-int211-gruevski-3

Macedonia is like crossroads between East and West, it is working intensively on improving the infrastructure and currently the most important and largest project is the construction of Demir Kapija – Smokvica highway section. At which stage are the construction activities, how much money is worth the investment and what it means for the country?

MISAJLOVSKI: The construction of highway section Demir Kapija – Smokvica goes on at full speed. According to the announcements of the contractor, construction works are expected to be completed by the end of the first quarter of next year, which means that the entire route of 28 kilometers will be built and asphalted, electricity will be installed, control center as well as other accompanying elements. The total investment amounts to 210 million euros. You asked me what it means for the country. The construction of this highway section is going in accordance to all international standards. For the first we will have a highway solution that meets all standards in terms of safety, traffic etc. We will further raise the quality of traffic because not only this section, but the whole highway on Corridor 10 is reconstructed or under reconstruction.

Kicevo – Ohrid highway is also important. At which stage is its construction, when it will be completed and how much does it cost?

MISAJLOVSKI: Construction of Kicevo – Ohrid highway is the largest capital investment in Macedonia, which costs over 370 million euros. Up to this point more than 30 percent of the total construction works have been completed. It’s being built along the entire route of the highway, around 2,700 meters have been asphalted and in the coming period the asphalting will intensively continue. Works on the tunnel near Preseka are moving at good pace, and about 45 percent of the tunnel has been penetrated. The tunnel will practically be the longest in the country, with a length of about 2 km. What’s interesting is that there is stationed the most numerous work force that has ever been engaged in any capital project or in numbers around 530 machines and about 1,200 construction workers. Its construction is very important because we want to connect that part of Macedonia through the highway, which is very important in terms of regional connectivity as part of the Pan-European corridor. In addition, we have issued a call for tender for the reconstruction of the section from Gostivar to Kicevo, but I have to mention that we keep to the plan to build a new highway from Gostivar to Kicevo in order to make a complete connection to Ohrid through a highway and then to Struga. Also there are the economic benefits and the benefits that the citizens will have in terms of faster and more quality traffic on this route.

I have to mention that we are also actively working on Skopje-Stip highway. There, the construction works are at are more advanced stage, the entire route has been set, one-third of the highway has been asphalted and nearly half of the construction works have been completed. It is a serious investment of 206 million euros, and we expect it to be completed at the beginning of 2018.

Investments in roads and railways, besides improving infrastructure, also mean engaging work force. How many of our citizens have been engaged in all projects which are in progress?

MISAJLOVSKI: Generally we operate with the figure between 2,500 and 3,000 workers who are actively working merely on the construction of roads. This figure does not include employees working on railways or on the construction of sewage and water supply systems. This investment cycle, generally, contributes to the development of the construction sector, not only in terms of engaging workforce, but also in terms of using new technologies and practices in construction. It is an additional experience for the domestic companies because they are often engaged as subcontractors of larger projects.

Another thing I want to mention is the fact that many companies that somehow lower the price we have planned for a particular project apply for the public call and thus we manage to provide additional funds for new projects. The interest of the companies shows that Macedonia is a serious country in the implementation of infrastructure projects.

vlado-misajlovski-int211-gruevski-2

One of the problems of the people when traveling was the poorly lit tunnel near Katlanovo. Is its lighting completed and what it looks like now?

MISAJLOVSKI: The reconstruction, together with the lighting of the tunnel near Katlanovo on the section from Veles to Skopje is ongoing. One line has been completed, and recently began the reconstruction of the other side of the tunnel. The lighting of the tunnel involves LED bulbs in the inside, as well as flashing lights on the outside, which significantly increases the visibility of drivers. Earlier, we set up lights in the tunnel near Katlanovo on the highway section Skopje – Veles, as well as in two tunnels near Veles. By the end of this year three other tunnels will be rehabilitated including: the Blace tunnel, the tunnel on Gradsko- Prilep road, and the tunnel on Bitola – Prilep road.

Subsidies airline have brought many foreign tourists, and they have also enabled our people to see the world? Will you continue with this practice and what do you think is the benefit of it?

MISAJLOVSKI: The benefit is visible, we have provided 34 direct lines, 24 of which are direct flights to European destinations with very reasonable fares. Here, if we make a comparison between ten years ago and now, the result will be the following.h

In 2005 we had only ten to fifteen destinations. Now we have direct flights to London, Venice, Malmo, Basel (from Skopje), Eindhoven, Dortmund, Milan, Munich Memmingen, Stockholm, Gothenburg, Brussels, Frankfurt, Cologne, Paris, Barcelona, ​​Oslo, Nuremberg, Hamburg, Friedrichshafen, Basel (from Ohrid), Berlin, Copenhagen, Bratislava, Zagreb, Geneva, Prague, Dubai, Belgrade, Ljubljana, Rome, Istanbul, Vienna and Zurich. As of October direct flight will be launched from Skopje to Doha, while as of November Skopje -Hanover.

We are also negotiating with other airlines that are interested in entering the Macedonian market that will offer new destinations. Merely as a result of this, the number of passengers increases, on average, by 20 percent every month.

By: Aleksandrija Stevkovska
Photo: Aleksandar Ivanovski