The city as an organism
By Trifun Kostovski
Every city is a complex organism, a “body” that has vital organs that need to be nurtured carefully and thoroughly. Unless one realizes that the city is a living organism and if it is not taken seriously and cared for, it should be clear that it will start to metastasize and instead of being a nursery of life, it will begin to slowly die. And its death means that its citizens are also sentenced to death.
That is why, in my opinion, it is never too much to think and talk about the acute problems our city faces as a result of the policies it is approached with.
Given my experience as mayor from 2005-2009, I would like to share some thoughts on functioning of our city. We, the old Skopjans, believe that Skopje has already reached its maximum size and that any further population growth will cause major problems. Research done around the world indicates that this is a trend characteristic of almost all metropolises, and therefore, Skopje will not be an exception. According to scientists, given the rapid technological development and sophisticated production equipment, the migration from village to city will increase more and more – people will not have to stay in the countryside. Believe it or not, research says that in 20-30 years we will have mega million cities with populations of up to 80 million.
At first glance it seems incredible, but all the indicators say it will happen. I have made this introduction in order to refer to some of my observations, which I consider to be concerning regarding the work of local self-government in the country, and especially in Skopje. We are witnessing massive and huge reconstructions of all boulevards in Skopje, in which the old asphalt is replaced with new and better quality which is certainly to be welcomed.
But there is one dilemma that still does not give me peace – why the local government of the city of Skopje started reconstructing the existing boulevards and streets when they were still operational. I think there was no need to make such capital investments. I’m sure you’ll ask why. Because we witnessed this summer that in many villages in the foothills of Skopska Crna Gora, there was no water for weeks, and the local government could not solve their problem, and even did not try to help at least to bring water with cisterns so that the citizens of these Skopje villages could live normally. This indicates that the underground water supply network should be a priority in terms of quality supply for every citizen of Skopje.
To be even clearer, we have no problem with the potable water from the Rasche and Nerezi springs. We have a problem how to deliver that water to the end user.
By this I only want to point out the fact that asbestos pipes embedded in the water supply system began to change during my tenure and I managed to change ten kilometers. Of course, I couldn’t fully complete the project because of the time and financial limitations.
It’s been over a decade now but none of my heirs have paid attention to this problem. Convincing us, the citizens of Skopje, that the limescale on asbestos pipes is protection against cancerous particles. It is of course a naked lie and nothing more.
I ask myself, but most of all those in charge of the city – why they do not deal with those issues that are essential to the lives of Skopjans: the water supply system, the sewage system where we do not yet have treatment plants, and the atmospheric sewage.
I come to the conclusion that political and populist interests are above the essential interests of the citizens. Because the operations that are carried out today are visible to the naked eye of every citizen, but at the same time, they are only makeup that conceals the real flaws.
Why is it so? Well, unfortunately, because of the upcoming elections. Whether early or not, it doesn’t matter. The ruling or opposition parties love showing “good things” to people.
Many of you may or may not have been to the largest city in the world, New York. On all boulevards, and even on Fifth Avenue, the roads are awful. But functional. I don’t know when the boulevards were last rebuilt in New York. But, my dear readers, that is not their priority. The priority is to meet the basic needs that are valuable to the vital aspects of each citizen.
When will we stop the practice of political parties, before the forthcoming parliamentary or local elections to offer false benefits? When will we see, we, citizens of Skopje, a concise but functional strategy for how the city should be regulated. No matter who runs it, which party he belongs to. It is important for this person to invest in the strategically important points for the development of the City of Skopje.
You may understand me as you like it. My message is not malicious, but it is a message of a concerned citizen who has personal experience and who sincerely and wholeheartedly wants honest future building to start.
Autumn and winter are coming. Clearly the top topic will be air pollution. I wonder if any of the local and central government tried to elaborate on the reasons why this evil is happening to us, and consequently on the methods of dealing with and eliminating it, since it is clear that it is a matter of mortality for the citizens.
This is like the story of the ant and the cricket. We all know this story, but by no means have we learned a lesson from it. I am openly asking – is the pollution only in the air or in the ground and in the water, too? These are the key things that every serious person will prioritize.
That’s all my dear…and I repeat – being a mayor is an obligation and the privilege results from what is done.
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