Is Veliaj Preparing to Build a Waste Incinerator in Tirana?

The Municipal Council of Tirana approved yesterday to pass decision making powers over EcoTirana from the Council to Mayor Erion Veliaj. EcoTirana is a public–private company that manages waste collection in Tirana.

The decision allows Mayor Veliaj to personally decide on any aspect of EcoTirana – including the activities, investments, and expenses of the company – without the need consult with the Council, which therefore has completely given up its oversight role.

The Council also allowed EcoTirana to develop activities outside the municipality of Tirana, different from before. This means that EcoTirana, now under full control of Veliaj, will also be able to bid on tender outside the capital.

The history of EcoTirana

In June 2016, Mayor Veliaj created a public–private partnership between the Municipality of Tirana and the municipal enterprise of the Municipality of Verona in Italy with the aim to collect waste in Tirana.

This company was called EcoTirana, with a starting capital of €1 million, and its shares owned by the Municipality of Tirana (51%) and the Italian company AGMS Holding (49%), which in turn is owned by AGSM and AMIA, two enterprises controlled by the Municipality of Verona.

As Tirana is the majority shareholder, and the Municipal Council transferred its oversight over the company to Mayor Veliaj, this means that he will be able to do anything with this company without prior consultation with the Council, and is therefore freed from public scrutiny.

According to its statutes, EcoTirana is allowed to undertake the following activities:

  1. Collection, transport, mediation, and trading of waste and the material that derive from it, including their collection and separation, as well as cleaning public spaces;
  2. Construction and management on the account of third parties plants for the recuperation, recycling, and destruction of waste;
  3. Rehabilitation of areas from polluting substances;
  4. Repairing cars.

Is this a maneuver to start building a waste incinerator?

The meeting of the Municipal Council, planned to start yesterday at 11:00, didn’t start on time because there weren’t enough council members to fulfill the necessary quorum.

Sources of Exit with knowledge of the events state that the opposition council members of the Democratic Party left the room after they noticed that the draft decision to pass the decision-making competencies over EcoTirana from the Council to the Mayor.

Even though the opposition members boycotted the session, the council members of PS and LSI voted in favor.

Because of the second point of the activities cited above, “destruction of waste,” this move of Mayor Veliaj to withdraw EcoTirana fro public scrutiny may be interpreted as a preparatory gesture for the construction of a waste incinerator in the Tirana region.

In December, Integrated Energy had made an unrequested bid to receive a thirty-year tender to build a waste incinerator in Tirana. This proposal was vehemently opposed by civil society. The owners of Integrated Energy are hidden behind a Dutch postbox company.

Recently, Mayor Veliaj had indeed prepared a project to build such an incinerator in Tirana, but the Councl failed to approve it with a majority of votes. The recent maneuver of Veliaj to withdraw public oversight over EcoTirana may be another attempt to build the incinerator, for which the approval of the Council would be no longer needed.