In the late seventies and early eighties of the past century, the even-uneven system was introduced in traffic in the former Yugoslavia, but not because of air pollution but because of fuel shortage. Truth is, the air was even more polluted in Sarajevo back then than it is now, but the even-uneven system was not introduced because of that.
At the time, the fuel was literally worth as “black gold”. The shortage of fuel followed the crisis caused by constant devaluation of the dinar, as well as the increase of prices of oil on the market, and the state could not import enough oil for the needs of the population.
In order to reduce the long queues on gas stations and prevent increasingly often incidents among citizens, authorities of Yugoslavia reached a decision on introducing the even-uneven system and in 1979 a Law was enforced according to which on certain days only drivers of cars with even, or uneven, license plates could drive. That is why the driving rule is called even-uneven.
During the first several weeks since the introduction of this law, driving was banned for vehicles with certain license plates on weekends and on Thursdays, and after several months the permanent rule was introduced, stating that vehicles whose license plates end with an even number cannot drive on even dates, and vice versa.
Numerous problems appeared already the first day – buses and trams were crowded, people waited for hours on stations, and in some enterprises the rate of late arrivals to work increased to 50 percent. Such driving regime caused troubles for years.
Financial penalties were drastic and driver’s licenses were seized from the offenders of this traffic rule. The law was not a problem for the wealthy Yugoslavs because they owned two cars – one with even and one with uneven number on their license plates. After a while, people had to get used to this because law had to be respected, and then the neighbors started organizing themselves. Thus, they drove to work together in cars which had suitable license plates.
There are almost 150.000 cars in the Sarajevo Canton. Jams have become unbearable long time ago. Public transportation barely works. What will happen on Monday, when citizens have to go to work? One thing is certain, a lot of them will arrive to work late. Businessmen will lose a lot of money because of that, and retirees and students will not be able to get on trams, buses, or trolleybuses because of the crowd. Some will earn money – the taxi drivers who are excluded from this rule.