Despite lockdown and severe restrictions on the movement of cars, the Municipality of Tirana issued a record number of fines in 2020.
The country was on complete lockdown for almost two months with businesses closed and movement limited. During the year, the economy contracted by more than 10% and some 50,000 people lost their jobs.
Despite this, the Municipal Police imposed some 265,315 fines on parked cars. This was an increase of almost 60,000 from the previous year or 22%.
This increase has been noted since the Mayor of Tirana Erion Veliaj came to power in 2016. Between then and 2020, the number of fines has increased by around 10 times.
Across many neighborhoods of the city, new rules were introduced with little warning. They required residents to display a parking permit on the windscreen of the vehicle. This caught many people unaware, including some of the 10,000 plus foreigners living in the city.
There were reports that fines were being placed on cars that had included their parking permit. The only way to dispute the fine is to first pay it and then appeal it. This process including the time spent and the difficulties in retrieving the money puts many off.
These fines which contribute millions to the Municipality every year have been called “secret taxes” by Agron Haxhimali, the Executive Director of the Association of Albanian municipalities. He said they were a way to raise more revenue in the Municipality.
Tirana is currently doling out 20 times more fines than Diurres, and three times more than Fier, Shkoder, and Vlora combined.