The air in Skopje needs urgent purification
Every winter, Skopje faces the same problem, the great air pollution, which seriously affects the health of the citizens, but so far no solution has been found that would reduce the dangerous particles in the air, in the season of fogs and heating, to the normal limits. And while the people of Skopje expect wind as the only escape from pollution, the city regularly ranks high on the list of the most polluted cities in the world, along with cities from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and China.
The loudest in the fight for a healthier life in the city are civic initiatives and associations. Councilors from "Green Human City" already in January submitted an initiative and a proposal for measures to protect the air quality in Skopje, but they were accepted only recently, at the last session of the Council of the City of Skopje.
Now these proposals remained to be implemented by the mayor Danela Arsovska, who also has the possibility to reject or cancel them.
Six measures are proposed by "Green Humane City" for immediate implementation. The Council of the City of Skopje should recommend to the Government to instruct the HMRC to start forecasting temperature inversions in the Skopje Basin. Publicly publish a register of legal entities, as well as their location in Skopje, which according to the law would have to have a B-integrated license to work, and during surveillance it was determined that they do not. Prohibition of traffic lanes on boulevards wider than the minimum according to the Urban Planning Regulations – 3 meters, which is appropriate for the speed limit in populated areas at 50 km per hour. Ban on plastic utensils and plastic packaging for one-time use, as well as products packed in plastic packaging in public purchases of the City of Skopje. Employing at least 5 new environmental inspectors and enabling the use of three vehicles of the Inspectorate in order to quickly act on complaints from citizens.
The Inspectorate sector does not have a sufficient number of staff to perform the necessary inspections in the field upon application by citizens and on their own initiative. The current number of 8 inspectors, of which at least two are managers and work from the office, barely work in 2 shifts, when a full staff is needed to cover all 3 shifts effectively. In addition, the Inspectorate does not have a vehicle fleet, and this seriously reduces the possibility that it will immediately arrive at the place of report and catch the perpetrators of the crime. With the implementation of the breathe.mk platform, which the City of Skopje accepted in October 2023, the number of applications to this sector will increase, and it is necessary for the City to be able to act on them immediately, quickly and efficiently - explained by "Green Humane City" ".
As the sixth urgent measure, they propose replacing the heating method of all buildings that are owned or under the jurisdiction of the City of Skopje and use oil, wood or other polluting fuels for heating and immediate switching of the heating system to electricity in combination with the installation of photovoltaics on the roofs or connection to district heating.
Among the medium-term measures to be implemented in the following until the end of the mandate of the current city management and the Council in 2025, the citizens' initiative proposes to establish a dense local network of measuring stations, especially around industrial facilities and plants with A and B-integrated permits. ZHG believes that all Skopje municipalities should have one biocompost plant - one for each municipality, which will not only eliminate the huge amount of waste, but will also provide energy and organic fertilizer. It is also proposed to install photovoltaic systems on all buildings under the authority of the City of Skopje, but also to provide subsidies for photovoltaics for individual households. Traffic measures according to an inverted traffic pyramid where priority is given to the most vulnerable road users, then subsidies for energy-efficient building facades, a system for self-rental bicycles, as well as highly developed public transport, which should function, i.e. move separated from the rest of the traffic.
The Initiative believes that a medium-term measure should be the construction of a comprehensive bicycle network every 250 meters, with a hierarchy similar to that of the car network: a primary bicycle network with paths/lanes with a higher minimum width (2,5 meters instead of 1,5 meters ), a secondary network with narrower paths, streets with a shared space, and with priority for bicycle traffic.