Water Price Hike Is Not the First Decision against Tirana Citizens

The illegal and invalid approval of the increase in water price and the school construction concessions by the Municipal Council of Tirana are not the first decisions taken by the by the PS–LSI majority that severely damage the interests of the citizens of Tirana.

In December 2015, when Mayor Erion Veliaj had just come to power, he made another proposal that caused a massive reaction of the citizens, namely raising the bus ticket prices from 30 to 40 lekë. No matter the protests of the citizens and the council members of the opposition, the price increase was approved after a long session with the votes of the PS and LSI. The argument that the price increase would improve public transportation later turned out to be ridiculous.

In the same session, the PS and LSI approved the fiscal package and budget for 2016, which included among others increasing the taxes for businesses using public space. Approved without any consultation with those affected, the tax increase was turned back a few months later after protests of small business owners.

In October 2016, again after a tumultuous session in which the opposition left, the PS and LSI voted in favor of gifting the company Eco Tirana, a public–private partnership for the waste management of the city, 22,000 sq.m. for a 25-year period. The Municipality itself would profit nothing from this free giveaway.

Later, in June 2017, and again with the collaboration of the LSI, Mayor Veliaj got the Municipal Council’s approval to take over executive control over Eco Tirana without prior consultation with the Council. This basically gave Mayor Veliaj personally the control over the public–private partnership without needing to offer any transparency to the citizens of the capital, including possibly the construction of a waste incinerator, much opposed by environmental action groups.

Too little, too late

Now that the parliamentary elections are over, the LSI suddenly claims that it is on the side of the people, that it is the true opposition that was lacking all these years.

But no matter that the LSI has distanced itself from its two “former” council members, Genta Mezini and Agim Kraja, that voted with the PS in favor of the recently proposed measure, they have given Mayor Veliaj the only majority that he needs, one of 31 votes.

So for the next two years, the LSI will claim at every turn they are the “opposition,” after having in fact given the PS already a decisive victory.