Country’s first EU-standard landfill ready for operation in GevgelijaOct 24, 2018
Gevgelija, 24 October 2018
Construction of the country’s first landfill to be built in accordance with European Union (EU) standards was completed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) today in Gevgelija. Funding of USD 1 million for the facility was provided by the Government of Japan. The new sanitary landfill will enable the municipality to close its current illegal dumpsite, which sprawls along the banks of the Suva River. The old dump long ago exceeded its capacity, posing serious environmental and health risks.
“A modern landfill is of crucial importance for our municipality,” said Gevgelija Mayor Sasho Pockov, “With the opening of this new facility in Novo Konjsko, we will finally solve the problem of solid waste, and soon we will start seeing the environmental benefits.” As operations get under way, the Mayor said, residents would be asked to start sorting their waste. He urged them to embrace a greener approach.
“We are glad the Government of Japan was able to provide resources for this invaluable project,” said Japanese Ambassador Keiko Haneda. “The country faces serious waste management challenges, and this project sets an example that other towns and regions should follow. I hope that this modern landfill will play a critical role in the future system for integrated waste management for the country’s southeast.”
“UNDP is proud to be a pioneer in building the country’s first EU-standard landfill,” said UNDP Resident Representative Louisa Vinton. “But doing anything for the first time can be hard. Navigating the bureaucratic labyrinth to secure all the necessary permits consumed a full two years. And that was before we even began construction. So we thank our Japanese partners for their patience. But now that we have a working facility, we expect it to become a ‘tourist attraction’ where ministers, mayors and ordinary citizens can see firsthand that an EU-standard landfill is anything but a garbage dump. We hope in this way to help speed the progress of the five planned regional landfills, and we also stand ready to draw on our experience to advise on how the red tape that caused us such pain might be slashed.”
Vinton urged the municipality to put the new landfill into operation at the earliest possible opportunity. UNDP is now assisting in the training of landfill staff, and planning is in an advanced stage for an improved access road and the procurement of supplemental trucks and loading equipment.
The landfill project was part of a broader USD 2.2 million effort by UNDP to support the municipalities most affected by the refugee crisis of 2015-2016. Among the other initiatives funded by Japan were the refurbishment of a pumping station in Gevgelija, which doubled the municipality’s supply of arsenic-free drinking water, and a river regulation project to reduce flood risk along the Lipkovska River in Kumanovo. Altogether the project has directly improved the quality of life for some 150,000 people.