AURORA SHPATAJ

One of the promises of Mayor Dritan Leli in 2015 concerned the resolution of the issue of waste collection, treatment, and incineration in the “Aviation Field” area, and that the latter would be transformed into a recreational park. However, 6 years later, the situation remains unchanged, at times even posing environmental emergencies.  The inhabitants living near the field face disease risks, particularly during this pandemic.


On June 19, 2015, Vlora Mayor Dritan Leli stated:

“I solemnly promise: I will not allow the incineration of garbage in Vlora to occur in open spaces, pollute the city, and endanger the health of the inhabitants. To this end, we have prepared an actual project. A modern landfill will be constructed in collaboration with the government and foreign donors.” – the Mayor stated during an electoral meeting that was attended by Prime Minister Rama.

The Mayor’s promise remained in the 2015 electoral campaign because the Former “Aviation Field”, comprising an area of nearly 3 km2, has transformed into a location of mass garbage collection, where they are regularly burned.

The most recent case of garbage burning took place on October 4, 2021, in regards to which, citizens in the area expressed their concerns.

“As you can see, there used to be a pile of garbage here. Irresponsible people pass by here and throw their household waste. This morning I woke up and saw the fire. It used to be worse, but people continue burning garbage, copper… Where can we turn to? Who can solve this? No one bothers doing so. I live in a rented space and cannot even open my kitchen window. We have to wear masks all the time. Covid has already been here with us. I will leave this place, what other option do I have? Can anyone live here?!” – a citizen in her 50s living near the “Aviation Field” stated.

Photo of the Former “Aviation Field” showcasing the grave situation of waste.

In regards to this case, Mayor Dritan Leli stated:

“The 20 years of garbage burning that no one cared about could be considered an environmental massacre; whereas, what happened today was an incident considered arson, but law enforcement has to look into it” Regardless, the inhabitants think the promised solution is nowhere near.

According to the initial promise, this area would be transformed into a recreational park.

“Faktoje” submitted a request for information to Vlora Municipality on August 16, which replied that the  Recreational Park project and the Former “Aviation Field” Project are still drafts due to the lack of decision by the NTC as the competent body and due to the lack of funding, thus preventing their implementation.

Request for information addressed to Vlora Municipality on August 16.

Vlora Municipality’s reply, September 8.

In order to provide a final solution to the issue of the open burning of waste, Dritan Leli promised that a landfill would be constructed.

“A modern landfill will be constructed, in collaboration with the government and foreign donors. Everything is ready. The construction of the new landfill means that all existing urban waste collection locations in Pylli i Sodës, Orikum, Aviation Field, etc., will be cleared.” – Mr. Leli stated on June 19, 2015.

Vlora Municipality informed us that the Sherishta Landfill Construction project is the first investment in the area of urban waste treatment in Vlora and its monetary value amounts to EUR 10 million. According to the reply, 80% of the works have been completed.

Sherishta Landfill photo.

On the day of waste burning in the Former “Aviation Field”, the Mayor stated:

“I will refrain from talking about irrelevant matters. What I wish to say is that the Sherishta Landfill will provide a final solution to the hot topic of waste treatment in the territory of Vlora Municipality and beyond. The landfill is absolutely under construction. Vlora has a completely different solution, guaranteed by the Albanian and German governments through funding by the German bank KVV, and I am certain that it will lead to the successful integrated management of waste between Selenica and Vlora Municipality. I am also certain that, despite occasional obstacles, there is a positive attitude to do our best. It was the first promise concerning a 20-year-old weeping wound of the city, which the citizens were reminded of due to a similar occurrence, and I am glad you are all here and that we have become far more aware of the environment and waste treatment than years ago.” – Mr. Leli stated on October 4.

Meanwhile, according to legal deadlines, the project is expected to conclude in December 2021. Thus far, the first project stage has been completed, comprising the Landfill construction and the MRF processing facility (urban waste management). Currently, the works being carried out concern the municipal storage (garage) where the new garbage trucks will be located, adjacent to the waste field. According to a draft decision, the underground bin construction would commence in October, together with the underground bin vehicle, for which Vlora Municipality has obtained the construction permits. The EUR 25-million investment is provided by the German KfW, which ensures a final resolution of the waste management issue in Vlora and Selenica Municipalities.

“Faktoje” has published previous articles on both promises of Vlora Mayor Dritan Leli, which, according to verifications and collected information, the promise pertaining to the Former “Aviation Field” is unkept; whereas, the promise regarding the landfill is only semi-fulfilled.

“Faktoje”, with the support of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), is monitoring 15 municipalities throughout the country to see if mayors keep their promises.