author: Gëzim Sulejmani
The construction of the water supply system in Tetovo has already become a synonym of
impossibility for all the governments in the last 18 years of transition as well as for local selfgovernment
authorities. Every government and local self-government structure has experienced
the bitter taste of impossibility, regardless of the fact that there have been financial means
allocated several times to this project, which, have unfortunately ended up in unknown hands.
The problem with water supply in Tetovo dates back long time ago. The project for the
construction of the water supply system plans to include the Cold Water waters and the water
from the Shkumbini River. According to this project, it is estimated that about 200 liters of water
per second will be collected, which would meet the needs of the whole population in Tetovo.
About 20 km of construction would round up the water supply project so that Tetovo would be
supplied permanently with water in at least the following 20 years.
The “vanished” money in “mysterious” procedures
The “messed” story of the water supply system in Tetovo started in 2001, though attempts to
ensure enough water for the town were made earlier as well. In 2011, the Macedonian
Government allocated about 2.2 million Euros for this purpose. Only a part of the project has
been realized with this amount of money and everything has stopped there. Based on some
information, still unconfirmed officially, the money has been given to the company called
“Idnina Engineering” from Skopje, which was the bearer of the project realization, and then five
years later only a third of what was projected was carried out. There is suspicion of an enormous
corruption scandal and the prosecution in Tetovo has filed a charge against two people involved
in this affair, but nothing has been officially confirmed.
Local authority representatives say that since then everything has only been a fake promise and
nothing more than that. According to them, the water supply system in Tetovo has always been
included in the state budget, but then it has been removed from all budget rebalances. So, means
are allocated by the government and then they are withdrawn. It is suspected that the political
battle between the central government and local authorities (belonging to different political
parties) has “frozen” in continuation the construction of the water supply system. Even at times
when those financial means were allocated, they were lost within the administrative labyrinths
without having anyone being held accountable and responsible for these abuses.
A case of abuse was registered in 2006, when about 75 million denars were planned within the
state budget for this purpose, but they were not used due to the noted irregularities by respective
institutions in the tendering procedures. This case was reported by the Ministry of Finance.
Also, there were other 50 million denars allocated for the Tetovo water supply system in 2007, of
which just a small portion was used and the remaining was not.
In 2005 a public piece of land was sold and about 175 million denars were again allocated for the
completion of this historical undertaking. 75 million denars of these were supposed to be
provided by the Ministry of Transport and communications and 100 million denars by a state
public enterprise. But, just before the elections, this tender was annulled and the works going on
in the meantime were terminated once again.
During all these years, there have been accusations forecast by local media about money abuses,
money laundry, corruption and political games. These accusations were made by different
political party representatives, but none of the cases has ever been fully resolved. Everything
went up to a rhetoric level and ended there; some of these cases were used against political
opponents at times of pre-election campaigns. As mentioned above, the amounts of money
allocated several times by the government for purposes of the completion of the water supply
system “disappeared” within some suspicious, mysterious and unknown administrative
procedures that were never concluded. The budget rebalances have “swallowed” several times,
without any explanation, the means for this project, which would enable the town to get
sufficient amounts of water to meet its needs and requirements. There are no exact data of the
total amount of money allocated for this purpose and the portion of utilized means so far. There
are just some numbers being mentioned but no one knows where this money ended up. Apart
from expressing their dissatisfaction with the issue of water supply, the citizens of Tetovo have
also suspected that there are certain “corruption” alliances among different functionaries who do
not discover each other. For more than a decade millions of denars allocated from the budget for
purposes of the completion of the water supply system in Tetovo have been mentioned but no
one knows where all that money is.
The constant restrictions of water supply
While the construction works on the water supply system start and stop endlessly, the citizens
continue to face the problem of water insufficiency at their homes. The only season when the
situation improves somehow, is spring. Otherwise, they have problems with water supply during
the whole year and restrictions are unavoidable. The only times during the day when there is
some water is at night and early in the morning, though not at a satisfactory level. According to
many experts, the city of Tetovo, located at the foothills of Sharri Mountains which are covered
in snow for more than seven months in a year, should not have any problems with water supply.
On the contrary, the problem has been growing constantly to a point of despair.
Complete neighbourhoods in Tetovo throughout the whole year, and especially in the summer,
do not have any water at all. The complaints by the citizens are never addressed properly by the
municipal authorities and the Municipal Public Enterprise and they keep justifying themselves in
various different ridiculous ways which do not make any sense at all.
According to the authorities, the worn out water supply system just adds to this unbearable
situation. It was constructed in 1929 for the first time and has not been changed since then.
About 20% of the drinkable water leaks out of the old pipes and tubes. Another problem is the
illegal connection in the water supply network.
The start of the second phase of construction of the water supply system by the new municipal
administration which is about 14 km long has been viewed with great optimism by the citizens.
The work is happening very slowly, but the authorities say that it will finally come to an end as a
long-term solution. In certain areas the terrain is very harsh and this causes slacks in the work
performance. There have been about 120 million denars allocated for this part of the project
initially. However, the citizens are still facing problems with water supply and restrictions are
still in force. In the meantime, the appeals by local authorities with regard to the reasonable
usage of water have been going on for some time now.
Before the “coordinated” solution
Representatives from the Municipal Public Enterprise say that, within the current possibilities,
the water supply in the city is at a satisfactory level. “Having in mind the atmospheric conditions,
the dryness, and the lack of precipitations, we are still able to provide about 230 litres of
drinkable water/ second,” says the director of this enterprise, Ajet Murati. He assures the citizens
that there will soon be a solution to their problem. “If the real line of communication and
collaboration between the local and central authorities were functional, and if there were not
disparities between political subjects, then the solution to this long-lasting problem would be
found very easily and quickly by finalizing the old project of getting the water from Leshnica to
the network system in Popova Shapka,” he says.
Mr Murati says that during these four months while he is leading the Municipal Public
Enterprise, he has found documents dating back from 2008-2009 which show that more than 1.7
million Euros entered the current account of the enterprise which then were transferred to Zajaz.
According to him, the above-mentioned project would have finished already. It is believed that
with good cooperation between the central and local authorities, this issue would come to an end.
The director promises that he will do his best to find a solution to this epical problem as sson as
(The research is supported by the SCOOP project and the Danish Association for Research