The municipality of Shkodra has not made any investment to avoid flooding in Berdica, one of the most problematic areas of this district. Although during the electoral meetings, the Mayor of Shkodra Bardh Spahia promised the residents that the issue would be a priority, a verification by Faktoje on the ground shows the opposite. The rains of the last few days brought back attention to the lack of investment in this area, both from the local government and the central one, since Bërdica was one of the first areas to be flooded in Shkodër.
“We managed to work and give priority to some deeply problematic issues related to floods, which have affected your area quite a few times. We will continue to do it, I assure you even more than before.” – promised the residents of Bërdica Bardh Spahia, during the electoral campaign for the partial local elections on March 6.
Screenshot from the profile of the Mayor of Shkodër Bardh Spahia on Facebook
Faktoje decided to verify the promise of the Mayor of Shkodër, based on the importance of this type of promise for the residents of one of the areas most historically affected by floods in Shkodër, such as Bërdica. Faktoje was in Bërdica on November 17, to verify on the ground whether or not the Municipality had started investments related to flood prevention.
Berdica village, November 17, 2022
The day we went to Bërdica it was raining. The rains, although not with high intensity, had started the night before and that was enough for us to find the village lands covered in places by water.
Berdica village, November 17, 2022
“Thank God, we haven’t been flooded for three years, because there has been no rain. It rained a lot last night, so today you can find water in the village lands. But if there is a lot of rain, our lands are flooded,” explains Jaku, a resident of the village of Bërdica, who we found opening drainage channels on his land.
“No one has done anything, except sometimes they clean these canals that are filled with water again. This requires some definite solution, not just some canal cleaning. If it rains heavily, our land becomes like a sea. The flood starts from “Bërdica Arch” down to where we are both standing. God spared us these three years because there was no rain.” – Jaku continues his story for Faktoje. But it seems that God did not spare Bërdica any longer. Three days later, the village was drowned under the ‘power’ of water due to heavy rainfall in Shkodra area.
Bërdica Arch, November 21, 2022
Referring to official data , in the administrative unit of Bërdica, 600 ha of agricultural land were flooded, specifically in the villages of Trush, Upper Bërdica, Lower Bërdica, Beltojë. On the other hand, civil emergencies have led to the evacuation of 12 families from the Administrative Unit of Bërdica. In addition, water was also present in 210 homes, inside and in their courtyards.
“Currently, the road from Shkodra to Berdica is impassable. Only those who come from Tirana can enter. The flood has started as always at the place called ‘Harku i Bërdices’ (Berdica Arch), so entry is impossible. – a resident of Shkodra explains to us in a telephone communication to Faktoje.
Meanwhile, Shkodra Municipality itself, in an official response to Faktoje, admits that it has not made any investment in Bërdica related to the floods. “The Municipality of Shkodra has currently made no investments in Bërdica area.”
Screenshot from the response of Shkodra Municipality, 30.09.2022
The municipality of Shkodra admits that investments in flood prevention for Bërdica area is one of the main challenges of its work, emphasizing the importance of the support of the Albanian central government.
“Strategic investments for both Guri i Zi and Berdica to avoid floods and the support for the agricultural sector remain a challenge. The Municipality of Shkodra will work with all its capacities to fulfil all its obligations, but the need for support for our projects by the Albanian central government remains important.” – says the Municipality of Shkodra on a public post on October 13, 2022, during the public hearings for “For the preparation of the local medium-term budget program 2023-2025”.
Screenshot from Facebook of Shkodra Municipality
Based on the information collected, as well as on the verification on the ground, we will categorize the promise of the Mayor of Shkodra Bardh Spahia for Bërdica as a promise not kept. “Faktoje”, supported by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), is monitoring 10 municipalities in the country, checking and verifying whether promises made by their mayors are kept.