About 50 residents of the Kicevo village of Knezino and owners of holiday homes who live near the “Krusino” sports and recreation tourist complex, will remain cut off from civilization in the next heavy rain, if the landslide is not immediately taken care of, which last week took out half of the road.
“Local residents are afraid, the situation is alarming and distressing. If it rains again in the next days, then there is no dilemma that the landslide will tear down the road! The first cracks in the ground appeared with the start of the construction of the Kicevo-Ohrid highway, and the situation has been constantly getting worse since then. We have reacted, we have intervened in the Municipality many times, but we haven’t received a concrete response on when the problem would be solved”, states a written reaction of a citizen journalist, an associate of CIVIL Media from Kicevo, wo insists on staying anonymous, so as to avoid the trap, as he says, of being put in a certain political context by the local rulers.
“And the problem is not political, but rather urban, and now is an existential one for the local population. Because there really is danger for the residents of this region to be entirely cut off from civilization in the next rainfall”, added nervously the citizen journalist, who requested assistance from CIVIL Media, for urgently solving this problem.
CIVIL Media again, in the interest of objectively informing the citizens, but also because of the severity of the problem, demanded a response from the Municipality of Kicevo. They also pinpointed the danger from the landslide spreading and collapsing the entire road. They also stressed the need for urgent intervention by the Ministry of Transport and Communications, in particular, the Public Enterprise for state roads, because they say this road has the status of a local road.
“The situation is more than alarming. We cannot predict the consequences and damages of another heavy rainfall. As a Municipality, we have reacted three to four times, we had meetings, with the subcontractor, the construction firm “Granit” from Skopje. They agreed that the road should be repaired, but they requested consent from the Ministry of Transport and Communications and from the PE for state roads. After many meetings and reactions, we received a promise from the Director of the PE for state roads that this week they would urgently intervene, because there actually is no time for waiting. The Municipality refuses to close the road (which was proposed by the PE), because this is the only traffic artery for the residents of Knezino and Krusino, highlights Ramiz Redzepi, commander of the Kicevo Headquarters for intervention in crisis situations.
He clarified that experts from the Skopje Civil Engineering Faculty had been engaged during this period, who are preparing an elaboration on the long-term solution to the problem. However, he emphasized that time is not their ally and that there should be immediate actions, so that, as he says, it will not be too late.
But, the Director of the PE for state roads does not have a precise answer on when construction activities for rehabilitation of the landslide will start.
“We are working on finding a professional, technical solution, which would mean either opening a new route, or repairing the existing one. There will be no work on the ground, as long as this project is not technically completed. We know the problem, and we are working on solving it”, stated Director Aleksandar Stojanov today for CIVIL Media.
According to information from Stojanov, activities are also in progress for the construction of the highway from Kicevo to Ohrid, which is under construction for two years now, and according to announcements, should be operational in 2018. The landslide on the road to Knezino is a side effect from the construction of the highway, an investment worth 370 million euros. How much the rehabilitation of the landslide will cost, and what damages could be caused by its delayed rehabilitation, are questions that the state needs to provide answers to.
This content is published within the framework of the August cycle of the competition “Be a citizen journalist” of CIVIL’s “Civic Lenses” project, supported by National Endowment for Democracy. The content of this article has been minimally edited by the editorial board of CIVIL Media, in accordance to the project concept and the website.