On Wednesday, Mayor of Tirana Erion Veliaj stated that for the last four years, UKT who provides Tirana’s water supply and the Budapest Water Company “have been working together to create a vision for the technical development of the future of UKT”.
He also stated that the two companies have undertaken a study called “Mid Term Technical and Strategic Development Master Plan of UKT” with the aim of improving Tirana’s water supply.
Instead of improving the issues of water through good governance, Veliaj seems determined to propagate UKTs improvement with the involvement of foreign companies. During his first term in office, Veliaj signed a number of agreements, yet still to date there is no update on their status and Tirana’s water remains undrinkable and intermittent in its supply.
In 2015, Veliaj signed a heavily publicized Memorandum of Understanding with Puglia Region President Michele Emiliano. This MoU set forth provisions for enhancing expertise and investment of Puglia Water Supply Company in UKT. Yet, four years later and nothing seems to have progressed.
There has been no information on the outcome of the MoU or any implementations. It is not known whether any audits were undertaken of UKT, whether their expertise was drawn on, or if any investments were actually made.
Then in August 2016, Veliaj announced that UKT would be privatized and that he had already had bids from big companies. He added that serious steps had been taken with one of them, a Chinese company that he did not identify by name.
Yet, once again, there has been no update on this supposed privatization or the mystery Chinese company. No one from the Municipality or the government has expressed any more interest in privatization and Tirana’s water remains undrinkable and intermittent in its supply.
Then, in November 2019, the government proposed a law that would provide for concessions to the water supply service. The government claimed that this law would regulate the sector and give more opportunities for cases where “the financial performance of the water supply and sewerage system is not sustainable.”
More then four years since Erion Veliaj became mayor and despite repeated assurances that meanwhile he has been “creating a vision” for the UKT, in collaboration with powerful international partners, Tirana’s water remains undrinkable and intermittent in its supply.