The NGO Info-center, with the partner organizations Spectar from Kriva Palanka, the Women’s Civic Initiative from Sveti Nikole, the Women’s Organization from Strumica and AKTIVO from Veles, in the period November-December 2023, carried out monitoring of the measures and activities undertaken by the municipalities for winter maintenance of local streets and roads. The monitoring covered eight municipalities: Kumanovo, Veles, Strumica, Kriva Palanka, Sveti Nikole, Novo Selo, Bosilovo and Čashka, and related to the period 2019-2023. A request was submitted to the municipalities for access to public information about published announcements for public procurement, concluded contracts with economic operators, capacity in people and equipment of the winter services of the municipalities.
Almost all municipalities prepare annual plans and programs for the maintenance of streets and roads in winter conditions and provide a budget for this purpose. The winter maintenance of the streets and roads in the municipalities is delegated to the public local enterprises, and some of the municipalities additionally conclude annual contracts with economic operators for the hiring of machinery and the purchase of salt and gravel.
The winter service in most municipalities starts on November 15 and lasts until March 15 of the following year. The municipalities have a register of the length of the road infrastructure. It is divided according to cleaning priorities. Snow clearing first takes place in the urban and most frequented parts of the municipality, in the second phase the streets that are not located in the central part and are less busy are cleaned, and the local government is also responsible for improving the road infrastructure in the rural parts of the territory of the municipalities. .
Municipal enterprises are responsible for cleaning the snow from the streets, sidewalks and squares in the central part of the municipalities. While for the clearing of snow drifts in hard-to-pass areas, private companies that own appropriate machinery are hired. When the weather conditions are extremely bad and the snow cover is large, the municipalities request intervention from the state institutions, such as Macedonia Road, the Crisis Management Center and the Directorate for Protection and Rescue.
Every year, part of the municipalities publish a tender through the Bureau of Public Procurement, for the hiring of a company that owns the appropriate machinery for snow removal. The contract applies to the entire winter season. At the public calls, usually only one bidder appears and almost every year the tender for winter maintenance of local roads and streets is won by the same companies. This is the case with the Municipality of Kumanovo, while in the Municipality of Veles, the money for this purpose is shared every year by two companies that are constantly repeated.
Smaller municipalities that were subject to monitoring, such as Bosilovo and Novo Selo, allocate a smaller budget for winter maintenance of streets and roads. Larger municipalities cover a larger territory and therefore the item for winter maintenance in their budgets is much larger. In the last five seasons, the municipality of Sveti Nikole spent 57,000 euros to hire labor and machinery from private snow removal companies, while Chaska spent more, i.e. 68,000 euros. The municipality of Kriva Palanka increased the budget last year and for the current season and now allocates 60,000 euros per year. The Municipality of Veles spent 95,000 euros, and the Municipality of Kumanovo spent the most money. This municipality allocates an average of 200,000 euros every year, or a total of one million euros in five years.
Apart from mechanization, the municipalities are issuing a public call for the procurement of salt and rice. From the received concluded contracts in accordance with the Law on free access to public information, it is noticeable that two companies dominate the municipal tenders for the purchase of salt and rice. The same companies, for example, appear in the municipalities of Kumanovo, Sveti Nikole and Veles. Of the municipalities that were the subject of this monitoring, only the Municipality of Novo Selo did not provide us with information on concluded contracts with companies for the hiring of machinery for cleaning the streets and roads from snow, and for the purchase of salt and gravel.
This monitoring was realized within the project “Active citizens and participatory democracy at the local level”, supported by the international center Olof Palme from Sweden.