Government Launches Online Reconstruction Platform for Earthquake Victims

On Sunday, the Albanian government launched an online platform where earthquake victims can apply for compensation from government’s reconstruction program following the deadly November 26 earthquake two months ago.

Minister for Reconstruction Arben Ahmetaj explained that local officials will be responsible of having all earthquake victims apply online for compensation, based on their self-declaration on damages. Civil servants will have to help victims compile all documents and then complete the online application together in municipality offices. The online platform will be open for 30 days, starting from January 29.

Before leaving to Berlin to meet with Chancellor Merkel and discuss the Donors’ Conference for Albania, Prime Minister Edi Rama stated in during the event that the reconstruction program will be funded through government budget, Donors’ Conference and other “new policy alternatives and financial operations”.

It was not immediately clear what exactly Rama meant by the latter, however he assured the public that the government will not rely on international donations only. “We are not expecting billions from the Donors’ Conference but an extra amount for reconstruction,” he said.

He then warned public officials against abusing their power during reconstruction, saying they were under covert monitoring. Rama invited the opposition to denounce cases of abuse. “I invite the opposition to go out there and scream out when they find any case of abuse by any individual. I invite them to deafen us with fake news, as they’ve done in the past, and among their fake news we will try to find bits of truth to address them,” Rama said.

Opposition leader Lulzim Basha reacted in a Facebook post by reminding the public that the deaths of 24 people in Thumane under the rubble were “state crime” that had not been investigated by the “political prosecution that defends Dako and Bushi on Edi Rama’s orders.”

Opposition accuses former Durres Mayor Vangjush Dako and Kruja Mayor Artur Bushi are accused of corruption and abuse of power in issuing construction permits. It claims that after a previous earthquake in September, the Municipality of Kruja falsely assured inhabitants of two apartment blocks in Thumane that their houses were same. In November, both blocks collapsed killing 24 people.

Basha also stated that the government had not taken any measures to helps affected businesses in Durres and it did not cancel concession contracts worth €150 million and use the money to shelter earthquake victims.