It’s 2019 and yet Tirana is still plagued by water shortages and power cuts, particularly during the summer months.
Living in the centre of town, we only get sufficient running water to shower or use the washing machine between 7am-8:30am, 12:30pm- 1:30pm and 6:30pm- 7:30pm. The rest of the time it is barely enough to flush the toilet or do the washing up.
During the summer months however, we frequently find ourselves without any water at all- sometimes for hours and even days. This means we cannot cook, wash, flush the toilet, do laundry, and I am unable to wash my infant daughter, unless I have a supply of bottled water ready.
The story is the same over on Myslym Shyri. A friend tells me “it has been like this forever but in the last 2-3 years it has gotten worse.”
He adds: “Less hours of supply and no exact time sets when we do or do not have running water. There are lots of new buildings being built nearby, I guess the water goes to them instead of us.”
In Ali Demi we have had reports of a similar story with complete water outages a couple of times a month. Near Dajt, residents told us that the only time they get a real flow of water is between 5:00pm and 7:00pm but that at the moment and for the last week, they have had nothing and are relying on bottled water that they buy from the market.
Both electricity and water shortages have been reported in Komuna e Parisit, Vasil Shanto, Selite, Selvia, and Blloku. Residents reported total outages lasting between 2 and 24 hours and happening between once a month and every day.
Those living in high-end apartment blocks do not suffer as much- another friend who lives in an apartment with a four-figure rental price tag has never had power outages, or any issues with water. It is the same story over at the Nobis apartment complex where 2 bedroom apartments can be rented for over €1,000 a month.
Those living in older buildings or in areas not heavily populated with foreigners or those with perceived “wealth” rarely suffer the inconvenience.
One source said she gives private language lessons from her home as her means of income and regularly has to cancel them due to a lack of electricity, adding that not being able to use AC or a fan in this weather is “no joke”.
The Mayor of Tirana, Erion Veliaj has promised that Tirana citizens will get 24 hour water in the next five years, yet from what people say, things seem to be getting worse. Pilot projects have been initiated in a number of areas including Kodra e Diellit, which is supposed to have an uninterrupted water supply. Two people I spoke to who live there, said the opposite and that very little had changed.
To support his 5-year strategy, Veliaj doubled the price of water for families living in Tirana- a move that had a significant impact on those living on or below the poverty line.
UKT, the Water Supply and Sewerage company claim that the water is also drinkable and guarantees that it meets safety standards, yet anyone who has drunk the water, knows this is not the case. In fact, my vet recommended that I do not even feed my cats tap water, for the fact it contains parasites, metals, and other potentially harmful elements.
In 2018, government favourite Fusha shpk won the bid for the construction of a portable water processing plant at Bovilla reservoir for a total of €3.2 million.