The Macedonian capital Skopje started offering a free city transport on February 7, as one of the measures to reduce the use of cars and thus pollution in the city, which hit record high levels in recent days.
Pollution levels in Skopje have been alarming for several years now, but the authorities have failed to take appropriate measures to solve the problem so far. According to Numbeo, Skopje is the second most polluted city in Europe and 46th in the world. The northwest Macedonian city of Tetovo is the most polluted city in Europe and third in the world. Increased pollution has also been registered in several other cities in Macedonia.
The measure was announced by Skopje mayor Koce Trajanovski on February 6, when he said that he himself will go to work by bus. Trajanovski urged citizens to use gas-fuelled buses and leave their cars at home.
Other measures include more intense street cleaning, the use of calcium magnesium acetate to reduce particle pollutants emissions as well as increased controls on construction sites.
The measures in Skopje will be valid as long as the level of pollution is extremely high, the city authorities said in the statement.
In the last few days, the toxic PM10 particles were about 12 times above the safe level in some Skopje municipalities.
The problem with pollution is attributed mainly to the heavy traffic, old cars and use of wood for heating.
According to the health authorities 30%-35% of death cases during the winter in Skopje in the last few years were attributed to the pollution.
Environmentalists have urged the authorities to find a solution to the problem of used cars that have been allowed to be imported since 2010, and their number reached 215,000 by August 2016.
Some advocate introducing an odd-even scheme, which would halve the number of cars on the streets on any given day. However, according to Trajanovski currently is not possible due to legal restrictions.
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