Motivated by the problems that the structures alongside the Vardar River are facing, and which are part of the “Skopje 2014” project, journalists of CIVIL Media spoke with Bozo Miljovski, civil engineer, with a master’s degree, on the risks of floods and the emerging of groundwater as a result of the constructions on the banks of the Vardar River, who claims we will have more floods!
CIVIL Media: What are the weaknesses in the regulation of the Vardar River, and how much does it affect the new constructions along the banks of the river?
MILJOVSKI: The regulation of Vardar River is one of the greatest works that socialism has made for Skopje to regulate Vardar and to shape the city’s image. However, some mistakes were made. When the regulation with the banks was being constructed, a clay core was not placed in the center for floodwaters not to pass through the banks and flood them, but to increase the groundwater in the surrounding area of the river. Hence, the solution for Vardar to be constructed with lake terraces was avoided. With these lakes the water would have entered behind the banks. Once the mistake had already been made, all the developers forgot that the banks do protect from floods, but not from groundwater, and the City is building buildings near Vardar whose basements get filled with water because hydro-insulation is not properly made.
When the “reformers” came, they forgot that regime that needs to be respected. No one is allowed to take away part of the river, yet several bridges have been built that take away 17 to 23% of the river bed. They are building in the river without asking anyone. They are placing ships, Ferris wheels… What happened a few days ago, will happen again! When they were building the highway, no one had performed an analysis on the 25-year and 50-year possibility of floods that occur in cycles, and what just happened shows that there was no study at all! The same thing will happen with Vardar. They say that with the construction of Kozjak that possibility is avoided, because the different levels restrain at Matka, Sveta Petka…, but Lepenec on the other side is unrestricted. They cannot have the freedom of assuming! Vardar has a continuous-flow profile that is guaranteed and cannot be touched! For situations like the one with the floods, when Vardar was over flooded and many obstacles occurred. During the floods in 1964, I was here when they blew up the little bridge, because it stopped and diverted the water towards Vardar. A solution was made for it to be elevated two meters, but that did not happen. And now we have built 100 obstacles in the river.
CIVIL Media: How much will the obstacles that were built on the Vardar River, in particular, the galleys, have an influence during more intense rainfalls? Will the river bed of the Vardar River change?
MILJOVSKI: No. The regulation of the Vardar River is made solidly, so the water will flow here. But, it will sweep those galleys towards the bridges, creating obstacles that will prevent the water from flowing, so the water will start flowing throughout the city. These are such unconsidered things, like with the bridges. When you go to Paris and cruise the River Seine, you will see the meaning of bridges, they are an architectural work. Here, our bridges are built by civil engineers. Civil engineers are not for urban bridges, civil engineers are for outside the city, architects are for inside the city, they should be doing the bridges, because bridges are architectural work. These bridges have been built with steel constructions, bridges have to have their own image, “crawling” on the river and not sticking out.
CIVIL Media: Does that mean that the newly-built structures that are part of “Skopje 2014” are from civil engineers, and not from architects?
MILJOVSKI: Look, the “Skopje 2014” project is not worth commenting. It is absurd, a cannonade of pillars in order to return back antiquity, it is ridiculous! But, they are just so scattered around the river, that half of the basements get filled up with water because they did not take into account that they should be elevated. I will tell you about one case. Recently, three locations were allocated for hotels on the other side across the stadium, and asked me at what level they should be. I told them that they have to be elevated above the level of the banks, because if there is flooding they will get filled with water. These are rationales that have to be respected.
Journalist: Biljana Jordanovska
Camera: Atanas Petrovski