Saturday, 16 December 2017 | News today: 0

Misajlovski: We are building the future like never before

For the first time over 900 workers are working together on one project - the Kicevo-Ohrid highway. Workers are constantly required, which increases their price. This is the biggest investment boom Macedonia has ever seen - not just economically and financially, but in any aspect of living, says Vlado Misajlovski, director of the Public Enterprise for State Roads

The general assessment is that road infrastructure construction is booming like never before. Highway connection Skopje-Ohrid has also been announced. Public call for concession of the Kicevo-Gostivar section is also being prepared, are there any interested parties?

MISAJLOVSKI: Construction is advancing like never before, now is the time to build our future. We are currently building almost everywhere, there is a constructing expansion in every part of Macedonia – highways, express roads, regional, national and local roads are being build.

Latest data has it that over 900 workers and engineers are working on the Ohrid-Kicevo project, which I am glad and honored for – having the biggest number of workers in a construction zone at this time. I expect for that number to rise to 2.000 people, which will be beneficial for the economy, employment rate, suppliers, every aspect of living. Apart from Macedonian construction companies, companies from China are also working here – they have some one hundred workers on two highways, the one connecting Kicevo to Ohrid and Miladonovci to Stip. Construction works are full steam ahead, and I expect further acceleration with the Gostivar-Kicevo road section. That, as you have mentioned, is some type of a concession. There is an announcement, Government’s concession study has been completed, there is an ongoing procedure for establishment if a commission and the other legal obligations which arise, followed by a public call for concession. There is a huge interest, even some delegations of foreign embassies came over to discuss it, many companies have been asking for this project, reviewing the profit, advantages and disadvantages. Companies from China, Turkey and other countries are interested. Even some Macedonian companies have been discussing mergers to see if they can apply to the call with joint efforts. It is a serious project for complete connection of Skopje and Ohrid. We have never had that, and the Government is trying to do it now.

Ongoing construction works on Miladinovci-Stip are also advancing. I am satisfied with who things are going. Recently, there have been storms and lots of water, which has disrupted construction activities, but I am expecting in the following months  – if the weather is fine – activities to increase, works to go full steam ahead and to accomplish everything we have envisioned. Many domestic and foreign companies are engaged in the construction works. The Greek company “Aktor”, which is a highly professional company, is working on Demir Kapija-Smokvica road. I have visited them personally and I have seen work is actively progressing. There are no interruptions anywhere, which I am glad for. Regardless of which institution is in charge of the project, we are all connected – the Transport Ministry, Finance Ministry, our Enterprise for State Roads – and we all have obligations in every project. Everyone is working continuously and I am glad that we solve all the problems immediately. We are constantly in the field and helping. That is the only way to complete all projects, because this is the biggest investment boom Macedonia has ever seen. Not just economically and financially, but in every aspect of living.

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Constructing expansion has saved Macedonia at the beginning of the global crisis by opening many new jobs in the service industry and other branches. Is the same thing happening with the road infrastructure construction?

MISAJLOVSKI: Absolutely, there are suppliers, sub-contractors for every type of construction works and raw materials, drinking water supplies are required. In general, there are many workers who are constantly working with full steam ahead, hence there will be new companies on the spot. That number will increase because the tranche is not being penetrated, which means new domestic and sub-contracting companies will be required. For the Kicevo-Ohrid road section, company ‘Sinohidro’ has signed four companies, which can sign contracts with as many sub-contractors they wish to, naturally, if it is in a timely manner, with high quality, in accordance with the contract and the project. Dynamics shall rise and it will become an upwards trend for our companies to join all projects because construction works are not just in Western Macedonia, but countrywide. Express roads we are building require major workforce, you can notice there are job ads for hiring construction workers constantly. They even lack workers, there is a competition in payments, construction workers salaries keep rising, which is good for everybody. There is even an upward trend of foreign engineers coming to Macedonia. And it will increase with the growing construction offensive.

If it will take some 40 minutes to get from Stip to Skopje via the new highway, how long would it take to get to Ohrid, respecting the rules, of course?

MISAJLOVSKI: It will definitely be faster. Traffic solutions will determine the time, but it will be shorter. Estimations have it that travel time will be 30 minutes shorter. It will be a broad road, with several lanes, a true highway – just like Macedonia deserves. But, above all, it will be safe. Safety will be much bigger than currently, apart from our maximum efforts to purchase and set up new traffic signalization on over a thousand kilometers. Speaking of safety, we are also repairing road holes countrywide to enhance citizens’ safety.

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Referring to the existing roads, such as the”Alexander the Great” highway, which are mostly used by domestic and by foreign tourists in the summer, and are they being repaired?

MISAJLOVSKI: Absolutely, some of the roads are in the maintenance program through “Makedonija Pat” and we have been continuously working on them for several years. Moreover, almost all roads in Macedonia are included in the program of VMRO-DPMNE, and then in the government program with its coalition partners. There will be no section or corridor in Macedonia that will not be included and reconstructed or repaired. Even where there is no opportunity for a new route, we are modernizing and rehabilitating. And from Skopje, with the entrance of Skopje to Gevgelija, to Kumanovo i.e. from Kumanovo to Gevgelija and vice versa, there will be a completely new route, a renovated modern route, and that is what we are working on at the moment. The two corridors, eight and ten, will be according to all European standards and all those connecting corridors will be, through express roads, highways, renovated, modernized. We are trying to repair the roads where we have problems with black spots and dangerous curves. Macedonia will get a new image, the future of all is now being built and not every state can afford all that. One has to have a strong program, background and strength to realize all that. It is my honor to be director because I empathize with these projects, I live through them every day and when you see how much roads mean to the citizens, it is really an honor and responsibility to do that. And I am convinced that all of these will be built because we are working hard on all projects – from design to construction.

Is all that an incentive for the municipalities to enter the projects and supplement them with their local roads?

MISAJLOVSKI: They are stimulating themselves by seeing the work on the construction sites and how much funds the government is providing for local roads, and they are trying to find a source of funding to work. Through the support from several banks we have made more than 700 km local road infrastructure. At the moment we are building in many municipalities, in Skudrinje in Aerodrom, Oktisi, Ohrid, Svilare and so on. I expect all of them to be completed by the end of the year with the loan that has been taken, i.e. with the support from the World Bank. There we have no project, the mayors are interested all projects to be completed. But, I can see that they are applying to various places where they can receive funds, to collect every penny in order to make road infrastructure because it is necessary, without it you do not have a strong municipality, strong city, strong state. Each mayor invests in infrastructure, which should be greeted, and they also receive help from the Ministry of Transport, in every possible way, and the Ministry of Finance with all kinds of financial injections for them.

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The main source of finances are the tolls, and there are novelties as well. What is the situation like, they were criticized, but also the safety of the employees?

MISAJLOVSKI: The situation is good, we can be say that, as time passes, we have increasingly confident and greater money collection, less abuses, and there always be such. Although, they are drastically reduced then before. Many did not pay, fled, but now there is control, and also higher morale and confidence in the institutions of citizens, and they pay road tax. There are such who will flee. We immediately alarm them, write down those who will make an offense, inform the Ministry of Transport, the State Inspectorate. We also have video surveillance. We record everything legally, as it suits. We have panoramic shooting, which car passed, if the toll collector returned exact change for the respective category … They are completely covered because it happens to return more or less money and someone complains. And then the cameras show the situation. The last two months show a good trend of charging the tax, less vehicle have fled. There are illegal taxi drivers who “stick” to the car in front of them, violate the ramp, but the control has been enhanced.

Hopefully, towards the end of May we will start building new toll stations, introduce new technology of electronic toll stations, with the aim to avoid the human factor. Electronic cards will be used and the vehicles will be marked, while approaching the tolls the ramps will automatically rise. There are several models of what will be the commercial part like, and how will be sold those cards.

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What is being offered when seeking a concessionaire for construction of a highway?

MISAJLOVSKI: There are various models, it depends on the person who makes the study, on what the state is ready to offer, how long it is and what the route looks like, how many vehicles pass on this route, profitability, there are many factors. But it is very important for the state to also offer tolls under concession and some sort of subsidy and other benefits. Because the concessionaire should get something in order to accept. We are talking about serious money, one needs to invest a lot, to take money from several banks to start to invest, to design, to build. It is a serious endeavor for which the government must offer something. This study shows that there are several ways how to do it, that it is partly possible to give tolls, subsidies, and other routes as well. Let’s see how you reach the stage of bargaining. It depends on the company, i.e. how many companies will apply. Then comes the phase of negotiation and bargaining, which is extremely tough and hard. But you have to give them something in order for them to come to build.  Carrying out a mere study and not giving them anything, that is just not enough for them to come to build. The government offers benefits for the state and the citizens, and modest and realistic earning for the investor. That is the real world.

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By: Naum Stoilkovski
Photo: Aleksandar Ivanovski