Mr. Barry Hutton speaking on The Kosovo Transport Policy and Plan.
© John G. Fender 2011
Barry Hutton began his presentation by outlining the current situation that Kosovo is in. It is surrounded by Macedonia, Albania and Montenegro which is part of Serbia. It covers an area the size of Wales and is surrounded by mountains. It is administered by the United Nations, who has a strong presence. Most of the infrastructure has been wrecked or damaged in the war and thousands of people have simply vanished.
Unemployment is in the order of 50%, the government is new and has no previous experience, no one knows what the transport budget is and the country intends to join the EU in a few years time, with as part of the conditions of entry, having a Multi-Modal Sustainable transport plan and evidence that it is being implemented.
However, there are some major problems to overcome. For example, the Electricity Company cannot send out bills because it no longer has a customer database and taxes cannot be collected because there are no records of where people live or work. People find it simpler, and cheaper, to just attach wires to the electricity distribution grid. With such a high unemployment rate, and no records, it seems that most people are building houses on land that they may, or may not own, the difficulty is in determining who owns what.
There is public transport in Kosovo, using buses donated from France, Germany, Italy and other European countries. Most of these vehicles were donated as they cannot be used within the EU as they do not meet current EU legislative requirements, especially in terms of accessibility. Basically, everything is second hand. Kosovo is referred to as a "territory" rather than a "country". The transport minister is a former bouncer who worked in a Swiss nightclub and the permanent secretary is a former railway engine driver.
It is against this background that Barry had to devise the Transport Plan and the big plusses, as he put it, were that as everyone had no previous experience and there were no preconceptions. In the UK and elsewhere transport plans are often created by a linear process, i.e. survey the current system, identify the problems and design a transport system that will solve the problems. However, few of these plans come to fruition as they assume stability in such factors as number of households, residential areas, work and travel patterns. In Kosovo there was no information on any of the required components of such plans. This meant that a fresh transport planning process could be devised.
The result was that a completely new plan, or more accurately a plan with a process was devised. The planning process enables the overall Kosovo Transport Plan to be revised as needs change and this enables flexibility. The overall plan encompasses the Kosovo Transport Information Database containing an inventory of the physical infrastructure, the services available, and traffic volumes. Also contained is data on accidents, costs, market research data and costs of past transport schemes.
Next are the objectives of the plan. These are related to the available resources and the policies used to deliver the objectives. The objectives are subject to change over time as circumstances change. The Plan currently specifies 16 initial objectives, grouped into six areas, i.e. economic, social, environmental, safety, road and administrative. There are 30 initial policies in the Plan designed to deliver the objectives ranging from the provision of good transport links, the provision of sufficient rolling stock on the railways to meeting the need for freight transport by road and rail from the mining industry to the provision of access to designated "Public Transport Priority areas" and the provision of parking for cars and in areas where there is excess demand, the provision of alternative public transport. Within the initial policies, there are 74 programmes containing 240 separate actions, designed to implement the policies.
A predictive model is being developed to enable an estimate to be made of the effects of the actions and the model includes the use of land use impacts. This is important as more people use cars and more space is required to cope with an increasing number of vehicles. The Plan also takes into account forecasts of passenger and freight movement and enables "value for money" measures to be devised and to be prioritised. The available resources are taken into account and part of the process includes an assessment of the effect of implementation of a measure. The Plan also incorporates a feedback mechanism to monitor the changes that actually happen and assist in the detection of trends that can be used to assist policymaking.
The core of the plan is the concept of performance rather that simply setting objectives to provide specific amounts of transport infrastructure or vehicles. An example is the objectives set for the main road from Pristina to the Macedonian Border. This has a target mean speed of 80 km/h and be capable of supporting vehicles with axle weights up to the full European standard. Prediction and assessment is important and as Kosovo is expected to deliver a multi-modal, sustainable plan, the assessment process will need to be devised specially. Initially it will cover only the main roads, but will gradually be extended and refined until it includes the whole transport network.
There was a lively discussion session after the presentation and Mr. Hutton ably answered the many questions put to him. The Scottish Region would like to thank Professor Howard Kirby of Napier University for hosting this event and providing the refreshments.
Report by John Fender.
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