Prime Minister Edi Rama stated that the government will continue to spend money on incinerators, despite criticism.
In a Twitter post, Rama responded to the PD accusations regarding their construction and corrupt affairs by writing:
“I know that the Democratic Party has a physiological relationship with urban chaos and waste, not only because a communist remnant and a pathological mess has been its leader for 30 years, but also because whenever and wherever it has ruled, the garbage has been in mountains.
But whether you like it or not, the Albania of the Urban Renaissance and the sanitary fields of technological waste processing will not stop until garbage does not burn or rot in any corner of our common house, for your Middle Ages are dead and will never return! ”
The Albanian government has entered into three concession agreements for the construction and operation of incinerators in Tirana, Elbasan, and Fier. To date, they have paid EUR 72 million for the three sites, two of which are non-operational and haven’t even been constructed. The third is operating at half capacity.
The idea behind the concessions was that they would burn waste for energy, creating a revenue stream and dealing with the issue of waste disposal in the country. Instead, the concessions have been handed to individuals close to government officials with contracts that are of detriment to the state, and taxpayers. There was no tender, no requirement, and no official proposal for any of the sites and the company that requested to operate the incinerators was four months old and had no experience, or capital.
One of the clauses in the contracts states that the government must start paying the concessionaire before construction is complete. Another states that when there is no waste to burn, the government must also pay the concessionaire.
As a result, the concessionaires have not made any progress in construction or upped the amount of waste they burn, instead taking money from the government as per the contract. In fact, the Elbasan incinerator is the only one operating but only from time to time as it apparently doesn’t have enough waste to burn. This is despite the fact that 80% of over 1 million tonnes of annual waste that Albania produces, goes into landfill.
According to data from INSTAT, less than 1% of waste is incinerated and that number actually decreased from 2018 to 2019 instead of increasing. Furthermore, while the Elbasan incinerator is not working at full capacity due to a lack of waste to burn, it begs the question why two more need to be built.