This year the annual WorldRiskReport published by UN agencies focuses on logistics and infrastructure. Recent floods in Macedonia are a good example of failed disaster prevention and neglected infrastructure.
Almost three weeks after 22 people were killed in a rainstorm that battered the northern outskirts of Skopje, one question remains unanswered: How could this have happened? The Macedonian capital has been hit by natural disasters during its history, including a huge earthquake in 1963 that almost destroyed the city and killed more than 1,000 people. However, this time the loss of life and widespread damage could and should have been prevented.
“People have died from the lack of an adequate infrastructure,” Sanja Radjenovic-Jovanovic, the president of the Association of Architects of Macedonia, told DW.
“The storm was heavy, but there are no supporting walls,” Radjenovic- Jovanovic said. “Look how landslides occurred. There is no proper sanitation. The sewers are overwhelmed. This is a disaster.”
The disaster has highlighted another controversial aspect of government policy. While rescue and relief efforts were underway for thousands of people affected by the storm and a day of mourning was proclaimed for those killed, a bulldozer was slowly pushing dirt in the center of Skopje on August 8. Over the next few days, it would become the most photographed piece of heavy machinery in Macedonia – and a catalyst for public anger on social media. The work indicated that, despite the tragedy, construction work was continuing on a controversial Ferris wheel – just part of the government’s plan to give the city a facelift.
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