Residents of two large neighborhoods in Tirana – Kombinat (5 Maji) and Laprake – protested in front of the parliament and municipality buildings on Thursday against what they consider to be the illegal demolition of their homes.
Their demands to meet with Mayor Erion Veliaj were not answered. Both the government and the municipality have not responded to requests to sit down in talks with the residents.
Last week, the government started the demolition of residential buildings in Kombinat after it had classified them as irreparably damaged by the November 2019 earthquake.
The government had already earmarked the area for development a long time before the earthquake. “Tirana Riverside”, a project by one of Prime Minister Edi Rama’s favorite architects, Stefano Boeri, had been trumpeted by official government channels since 2018.
In 2018, the government announced it would demolish at least 67 buildings to pave the way for the project, which would replace the demolished buildings with new homes, offices, and commercial premises.
The project faced resistance by residents, but then the following year’s earthquake gave the government the opportunity to declare the buildings demolished and raze them to the ground.
The lucrative project of more than Є61 million will be tendered to private companies. Residents will be given apartments in the new buildings.
However, protesting residents say they haven’t signed any agreement with the municipality neither on the demolition, nor on the compensation. They claim their properties have been razed to the ground illegally, without their consent.
Some say they haven’t been able to legalize the properties as authorities closed the application process. This means their properties will not be compensated financially or with a new apartment.
Residents of the other area, Laprake, also protested against the demolition of their homes to open the way for the construction of the ring road. They said they would go on a hunger strike if the government didn’t guarantee proper compensation.