Skopje

Nikola Popovski

Skopje, the capital of our homeland and its most important administrative, political, economic, educational, health, cultural, transport and urban center is on the road to extinction. Yes, towards extinction. Cities, like all other structures, are born, grow, mature and extinguish. Slowly, imperceptibly, invisible for a human lifetime, but moving along that path. Some faster, some slower. If the human factor supports these processes, they can significantly accelerate. The last 20th century was a period in which Skopje drastically transformed from an ordinary small city into a powerful urban structure that has significance for the wider region. Unfortunately, in the 21st century, it will probably turn into a symbol of something to be avoided.

Our capital, in that period of only one and a half decade of total lack of care and neglect of its vital needs, accompanied by management that is at the level of occupation and with absolutely violent behavior on its structure, has become one of the main problems of its inhabitants and the whole community. It has become a city that does not solve the problems of its inhabitants, but it terrorizes their lives. The urban center core is irreversibly destroyed and for that there should not be any further argumentation at all. There is no expert text, statement, analysis or article that indicated that this has not been destroyed, but there are, however, many in the country and the world that are amazed by the reality and those who ridicule it. It is dysfunctional and clumsy, kitchy, and completely meaningless. That part of the city, basically, should already be avoided, but if one has to pass, stay or move through it, it is best to do so in the shortest possible period of time.

The old structures of Skopje from the Ottoman period, mainly on the left side of Vardar, are completely neglected and dilapidating, and everything new in this part looks like a large Middle Eastern chaos in which European standards and values of living are abandoned and replaced with something which is best described by the word – disgusting. That part of the city should be avoided, but if someone has to pass, stay or move in that part of the city, it is best to do so in the shortest possible period of time.

Traditional parts of the city and settlements created during the period between the two world wars, such as Kisela Voda or Debar Maalo from beautiful places of living, have been brought into a state of organized and planned chaos. In those parts, in just 20 years everything has become overcrowded, stifled, dysfunctional, and stupid. The buildings and other objects are too close to each other, they have no free surfaces, no parking spaces, there are not enough social facilities, there are no convenient transport solutions, there are no sidewalks either, because there are either parked vehicles or something for sale or someone usurped them, or they were not planned at all and did not exist. Those parts of the city should also be avoided, but if one has to pass, stay or move in them, it is best to do so in the shortest possible period of time.

Post-earthquake settlements are a special story. Situated in beautiful places in the second ring around the central city core from Vlae to Lisice and from Butel to Przino and Crnice, they completely fall back and are destroyed in urban sense. They are constantly dirty, unsupervised, excavated, with unattended public spaces, urban-terrorized by bad local authorities and improvisers, and are beginning to become non-functional residential zones, with relatively poor quality of life that has remained since the time of their construction more than half a century ago (in the mid-60s of the last century), but supplemented by various various extensions, upgrades, semi-illegal, or illegal sheds, warehouses, workshops, sheltered buildings, primitive garages and the like in all possible areas of the yards. Except for the living needs of the inhabitants, there is nothing else to ask for. And those parts of the city should be avoided, but if one has to pass, stay or move in them, it is best to do so in the shortest possible period of time.

Modern urban and large settlements such as Aerodrom, Karposh and others have been particularly disfigured in recent decades. Imagined and built as modern urban dwellings, most of them turned into absolute chaos. Everything empty space in them way was criminally filled with buildings – high buildings of ten and more floors – and nothing but buildings. They have become dysfunctional settlements in which people live as if in ant colonies with less and less humane conditions. More than 2/3 of the inhabitants of these neighborhoods today see nothing other than windows through their windows. There is no special need to avoid those parts of the city, but if one has to pass, stay or move in them, it is best to do so in the shortest possible period of time.

The improvised and unurbanized illegal and semi-illegal settlements in and around the city, and with more tendency to grow, some of which have reached several tens of thousands of inhabitants, are a special and sad story of Skopje. Most of Skopje residents do not even know or are aware of their existence and problems. Regarding them, not a word should be said in order not to have the motives for their mentioning misunderstood. Those parts of the city should simply be avoided.

But the problems do not end there. The general problems of the city have multiplied. Transport, as well as residential living is terrible. Any movement with a vehicle is a relentless waste of time and resources. While building and constructing buildings with more and more new inhabitants, transport solutions were only neglected. Most often, there is a small extension of the existing streets built, that do not solve anything, but just sway the citizens. All this and many other factors led to a situation in which Skopje began to suffocate. Suffocation has become literal with the level of pollution for which no solution is seen. At least not in the way it is now being sought. At least not by building new skyscrapers in the strict center, with destroying existing parking and free space that the authorities quietly allow.

Skopje slowly but surely, from a metropolis becomes a tyranopolis – a city that instead of facilitating and humanizing the lives of its inhabitants and providing better services and conditions for development, tyrannizes its inhabitants with its dysfunctional systems and services, including governance (rule) with it and dehumanize life. A city that pollutes inhabitants with highly toxic particles that compel them to live with permanent diseases, and according to experts, even shorten their lives for 4-10 years. This will contribute to people stop moving into the city, and for the existing residents to gradually leave. Prices of urban private and public goods will be reduced, and the economy and life will stagnate and degrade. In the very long run, the tyranopolis will turn into half-deserted, non-perspective, troubled and half-dead city. He will become a kind of necropolis – a city that gradually dies with no prospects for life.

If there is any chance that this tendency will slow down, or in some of the most optimistic scenario – stop, then the further vertical and horizontal spread of the city must be immediately and ruthlessly stopped on every ground. No one’s personal and special interests are beyond the general and therefore there must be no compromise. But, unfortunately, this scenario, for the time being, seems impossible.