Four years after the November 26th earthquake, residents of Kombinat neighborhood in Tirana are still homeless, despite promises from Tirana’s Mayor, Erion Veliaj. Some Kombinat residents told Faktoje that the wait could last until 2025, and with the campaign underway, they may finally have a roof over their heads. Currently, the new buildings may appear finished from the outside, but they are still uninhabitable. There are ongoing interior works to be completed and roads and sewage systems are still missing outside.

Ilda Hoxha

In September 2023, Tirana Mayor Erion Veliaj reiterated the promise of housing for the homeless residents of Kombinat following the November 26, 2019 earthquake.

‘Our focus will be on Kombinat. Ten buildings have been completed there, so we will start moving in the residents… Therefore, I want us to focus all our attention on Kombinat…’ Veliajstated, among others.

To follow up on this crucial promise for the citizens, we conducted an on-site verification on January 24th. On site, we saw that some seemingly completed buildings had not yet been inhabited by residents. They told Faktoje that they had only been completed as structures from the outside, as there is still work needed inside the apartments.

Buildings in Kombinat, January 24, 2024

‘These buildings were the first to start and have not been completed yet. The building next door has been completed for a year, fully equipped with bathrooms and everything else, but it lacks electrical wiring inside, plumbing, and a road for access. They keep them to give them to us for the 2025 elections, in exchange for a vote!’ says a resident who has been renting since 2019.

Another resident told Faktoje that even if the buildings are completed, no one will move in, as the road is inaccessible.

Buildings in Kombinat, January 24, 2024

The buildings are not completed; there are many things that need to be done. The road also needs to be fixed; can anyone pass through here?! I think it will take at least another year to finish, so we can move into the apartments. Now we are living in rented apartment; the state pays for us,’ says a 55-year-old.

Buildings in Kombinat, January 24, 2024

All boards at the construction site had deadlines of 17 months, but the start and end dates were missing. However, in the case of Kombinat, works have been ongoing for more than 17 months, and all deadlines for completion have been missed.

Faktoje requested information from Tirana Municipality regarding the completion deadlines for the reconstruction process. However, by the time the article was published, we had not received a response, despite the deadlines being exceeded according to the law on the right to information.

A year ago, Faktoje reported on the reconstruction process in this area. Families affected by the November 2019 earthquake in Kombinat area still did not have the keys to their new homes, despite promises from Mayor Erion Veliaj.

In June 2022, he declared that within that year, the first families affected by the earthquake in Kombinat would move into the new apartments.

‘Now that we have fully opened the construction site, we have made progress in some areas and will be ready to accommodate the first families this year, as is the building behind me’, Veliaj said.

In December 2023, Mayor of Tirana made another promise to the homeless families of Kombinat.

‘From the beginning of next year, in January and February, we will draw lots for the first families to move in here. The first section is almost finished’, Veliaj emphasized on December 16, 2023.

By the end of January, verification indicates that nothing has changed.

Kombinat was heavily damaged by the earthquake on November 26, leaving 1500 families homeless.

In July 2020, the reconstruction plan for Kombinat was introduced.

‘This project involves 1.5 million square meters of building space. It is perhaps the most ambitious construction project in Tirana’s 100-year history as the capital, designed to accommodate 21,534 people. Those receiving the first homes make up only 1/3 of a neighborhood, which could potentially grow to accommodate 21,000 residents. It will start with the first phase of 2292 apartments for the 8500 citizens of Kombinat affected by the earthquake,’ Veliaj announced at the time.



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