IBNA Special Report
Skopje, November 17, 2014/ Independent Balkan News Agency
By Naser Pajaziti
FYROM is seeing a growing number of victims in road accidents. Tens of accidents are registered in a day, with deaths and wounded. According to the statistics of the Ministry of Interior, from January until last month, road accidents have caused 110 deaths.
This number is a little lower than last year, which registered 164 deaths.
Minister of Interior, Gordana Jankulovska declared that laws and fines on the road have become tougher, but she appeals for the citizens to be careful while driving.
“Law and order authorities are doing everything they can in order to enforce the application of road regulation. This has led to a higher awareness and more responsibility among the citizens to respect road regulation”, declared Jankulovska.
The new law on safety on the road has increased fines for offenses and speed excess in inhabited areas amount to 500 Euros.
Republican Committee for Safety in Traffic has launched a campaign of awareness for safety on the road, where messages through the media are also offered by the heads of religious communities in the country, appealing for the citizens to be careful and respect road regulations.
“We must respect road regulation. God gave us vehicles in order for us to make our life better, but he has also given us the sixth commandment which says: Do not kill”, declared the head of the Macedonian Orthodox Church, Dragi Kostandinovski.
Citizens express their concern about the lack of safety on the road and the rise of the number of accidents, but there’s also a growing concern for the rise of the amount of fines by the Ministry of Interior.
“We’re in favor of increasing fines, but a 500 Euro fine for speed excess is something which doesn’t even happen in the most development European countries. A citizens whose average salary is 200 Euros a month, cannot be punished like this. We see the increase in the amount of fines as a strategy of the government to increase the budget”, says Ilir Mellova, a road user.
Amendments in the law on road safety set forth rigorous penalties for drivers in case of offenses, such as prohibition to drive for up to one year, fines for exceeding speed amounting to 500 Euros, fines for driving under the effect of alcohol up to 400 Euros, fines amounting up to 50 Euros for the safety belt and also fines for using the phone while driving.
Bilall Kasami, professor of economics at the Balkan University of Skopje says that as far as the fines are concerned, the financial aspect is a priority of institutions and not the enforcement of road safety.
“Fines do not correspond at all with the living standards and the average salary in Macedonia. I think that fines must not be more than 20% of the current amounts. The only scope for this increase is to bring more money to the budget”, says Kasami.
Similar insights have also been given by the Macedonian opposition. Petre Sigelov, spokesman of LSDM (Macedonian Social Democratic Union), said that through these high fines, the government is planning to collect 40 million Euros next year.
Police patrols have intensified their checks throughout the country and according to the information from the Ministry of Interior, in Skopje alone last week, 1100 fines were issued for road offenses. This figure indicates the increase of the number of fines issued to the citizens.
Year Number of fatalities on the road