Bulgaria’s capital Sofia: Mayor Fandakova is facing protests

Written by on October 21, 2017 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on Bulgaria’s capital Sofia: Mayor Fandakova is facing protests

Sofia. What a wonderful name for a city. Located in Western Bulgaria, at the foot of the Vitosha mountain range, it is home to more than 1.26 million people. One of them is Mayor Yordanka Fandakova. The 55-year old is a member of GERB, the conservative party of Prime Minister Boiko Borissov.

Under her watch, Sofia has become one giant construction site. These are the reasons:

> The third Metro line is being constructed. The largest construction sites in Sofia are part of that endeavour, which will not be completed until 2019.

> The European Union provides funds for transportation projects, such as the Metro line mentioned, and other contingencies. Sofia makes use of those funds.

> Bulgaria’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union is coming up. When thousands of EU officials flock Sofia, the city’s infrastructure is supposed to look modern. It won’t, but the journey is the destination, as they say.

Hastily, Sofia Municipality is trying to complete refurbishments of important traffic arteries and other streets in the city center. Those include Boulevard Dondukov, which will supposedly be ready to go in 10 days from now. Boulevard Praga was already renovated, while other street refurbishment projects are ongoing.

There are two big projects, which will not be ready by the beginning of the Presidency, because they haven’t started yet. For some reason, the renewal of Boulevard Bulgaria was postponed. It is unclear whether the construction there will be started before, during or after the Presidency.

Mayor Yordanka Fandakova. Photo by Imanuel Marcus.

The same applies to one of the most prestigious projects: The refurbishment of the book market at Slaveykov Square, along with Graf Ignatiev Street. The latter was supposed to be turned into a real and more attractive pedestrian zone before the Presidency. Forget it.

Mayor Yordanka Fandakova is going through some trouble. Every time she is having streets renovated, she gets complaints from inhabitants and NGOs. Those are usually about the quality of the road work. In some cases, even the Mayor agrees. Just days ago, she cancelled contracts with two construction companies and imposed fines on others, since they did not do a good job.

This weekend, inhabitants in several parts of Sofia intend to stage some more protests. Today, residents of the Vladaya quarter will block the important Boulevard Czar Boris III, since they want a dialogue with the Municipal Council. This is mainly about a pedestrian bridge they do not want.

In the Vitosha quarter of Sofia, today’s protesters will demand transport infrastructure. They also want a construction ban, until the infrastructure was provided, while residents in Lozen, a village belonging to Sofia, insist on a logging ban on the Lozen Mountains for 10 years, according to the Bulgarian-language publication Aktualno.

On Sunday, inhabitants in the Manastirski Livadi-Iztok neighbourhood will protest against the lack of streets, sidewalks, sewers, drainage systems, kindergartens and schools. These protesters say, they lived in conditions of the 19th century. And they are not alone. Mayor Yordanka Fandakova lives in that quarter.

Last but not least, there will be protests in Sofia’s Losenets quarter. In this case, there is an argument going on about the required height of newly constructed buildings.



About the Author

Imanuel Marcus is Associate Editor of The Sofia Globe. He is German and lives in Sofia. Contact: imanuelmarcus (at) gmail.com