One month after officially assuming the position of Mayor of Shkodra, Benet Beci announced the initiative to clear public spaces in Shkodra. Part of the initiative involved removing dozens of street vendors from ‘Hafiz Sabri Koçi’ square in the Rus neighborhood. Faktoje’s fact-checking indicates again that the mission to clear the sidewalks near the market in Rus turned out to be an impossible.
Clearing of public spaces in the northern capital, Shkodra, is one of the most frequent promises made by the mayors of this city. Even the newly elected socialist Mayor, Benet Beci, began his duty with actions to clear public spaces.
“Today in Rus, at ‘Hafiz Sabri Koçi’ square”. The designated places inside the market have been arranged for street vendors, and in the coming days, their registration will be carried out according to the rules, while the sidewalks have been returned to the citizens, wrote Beci on July 15 of this year, a few weeks after officially assuming the Mayor position.
Video footages were also shared by Beci to describe and accompany the initiative to clear the sidewalks from street vendors in Rus.
The next action to clear public spaces, without results
Given the significant impact of the occupation of public spaces on the lives of Shkodra citizens, Faktoje decided to fact-check Mayor Benet Beci’s promise.
We went back to ‘Hafiz Sabri Koçi’ square four months after the action to clear public spaces.
During the onsite verification of the area near the market in Rus neighborhood on November 13th, we encountered dozens of street vendors on the sidewalks.
Once again, the initiative to clear public spaces resulted to be an impossible mission.
“I don’t go out every day, so I haven’t moved inside the market. When I have a product, I come out and sell it here,” expressed a street vendor who had taken a spot on the sidewalk near the market in the Rus neighborhood.
The inspections will continue
The mission to clear public spaces is considered possible by Shkodra Municipality and it is officially clarified to Faktoje that they have taken actions and penalties as well:
Shkodra Municipality has set up working groups among market authorities, municipal police, and regional administrators who are identifying possible spaces to return them to markets in the service of the community. At the same time, continuous inspections are being conducted in public spaces.”
In an official response to Faktoje, the Municipality states that a culture of impunity has been established in Shkodra, but responsible institutions will continue to impose fines on violators.
Every month, punitive measures have been taken by Municipal Police in this direction against violators. The issue, carried over for decades, allowing and not punishing the violators in occupying public spaces, has led to the demoralization of citizens, creating the idea that occupying public spaces goes unpunished.” – Municipality of Shkodra.
In Rus market, temporary spaces have been created for around 27 street vendors who have been allowed to sell on the sidewalks around the area over the years. But again, dozens of others are found trading and blocking public spaces dedicated to pedestrians near the market.
The occupation of public spaces in Shkodra has been a continuously monitored issue by Faktoje. Even in previous verifications, the vigorous actions to clear spaces in the northern capital have failed along the way.
Based on the gathered information and on-site verification, we assess the promise of the Mayor of Shkodra, Benet Beci, to clear public spaces in Rus, as partially fulfilled.
*Faktoje, supported by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), is monitoring 10 municipalities in the country and verifying whether promises given by Mayors have been fulfilled or not.