The Low Quality of Roads in Some Districts Lowers Their Competitiveness
For the purposes of the third consecutive edition of “Regional Profiles: Indicators of Development” the IME acquired data about the condition of the road network at the district level. These data are collected by the Road Infrastructure Agency (RIA), which evaluates the condition of the republican road network (highways, first, second, and third class roads) using a three-staged scale – good, average and poor.
In 2013 39,6% of the roads are in good condition, a decrease of 0.7% compared to last year. At the same time the data vary significantly between different districts. The condition of the road network is best in Sliven – 79.3% are in good condition, and only 14.4% are in poor condition. There are 5 more districts where over 50% of the roads are in good condition – Stara Zagora (53.4%), Pazardzhik (52.6%), Targovishte (52%), Blagoevgrad (51.9%) and Yambol (50.3%). At the other end is Vratsa, where only 17.9% of the roads are evaluated as being in good condition, and as many as 44.2% are classified aspoor.. in the quality of the road network in Vratsa keeps decreasing. In 2012 26.7% of roads were classified as good - a drop by 8.8%, which is the second largest after Haskovo, where the part of roadsin good condition decreases by 10.4%, thus dropping to 33.6% in 2013. Among the districts with a relatively low share of roads in good condition are also Montana (29.1%), Ruse(29%), Sofia district (28.6%), Burgas (27.1%), Veliko Tarnovo (25.7%) and Kardzhali (25.5%).
The biggest increase of the share of roads in good condition is observed in Shumen – from 19% in 2012 to 36.3% in 2013 or 17,3 p.p. increase. A continued rehabilitation of 40.5 km of the I-7 road Shumen – Veliki Preslav – Varbitsa is expected In 2014. This will improve the share of roads in good quality even further. The construction of the ‘Hemus’ highway is also progress, despite problems.
Overall, half of the districts have their share of good quality roads increasing, and the other half – decreasing. The map above shows that the share of roads in good condition in Southern Bulgaria is higher. Te total share roads in good condition to the north of Stara Planina is 36.4% while south of the mountain it reaches 45,1%. This is mostly due to the fully built “Trakia” highway and the fact that most big infrastructural projects concentrated in Southern Bulgaria.
The poll, which was conducted in May 2014 for the “Regional Profiles: Indicators of Development” study, shows that one of three companies claim that the quality of infrastructure in their district has a negative influence on their business. The worst resulsts are in Vratsa, where 58.3% of entrepreneurs state that they suffer from low quality infrastructure. This also holds true for about half of companies in other districts – Gabrovo (51.7%), Silistra (48.3%) and Montana (46,6%)– also districts in the northern part of the country.
Building up a good infrastructure has been a priority of the last few governments. The lack of quality roads and convenient transport connections between districts can seriously interfere with their further economic growth.