Did BIRN deliberately confuse the landfill project with the incinerator?

2023-07-20 15:24:48Investigim SHKRUAR NGA REDAKSIA VOX
In the photo: Former ministers Ahmetaj and Cani, media "reporter" and the mayor, Erion Veliaj

At the height of the discussions in the Assembly on the removal of the immunity of Arben Ahmetaj, BIRN media publishes on its website a long article with the 'bombastic' title, "The Tirana incinerator project was proposed by Erion Veliaj, says SPAK ".

This title was put in the mouth of SPAK, thus interpreting the contents of the special prosecutor's file for Arben Ahmetaj. Inside, the BIRN article, continuing with the interpretation of the content of the SPAK file, even says that Arben Ahmetaj, today under investigation and search by SPAK, has opposed it.

But, the article has a big untruth that appears in the title and then the whole article is elaborated around this untruth. The SPAK file does not say at any time that Erion Veliaj has proposed an incinerator, i.e. the current waste treatment project in Tirana. What the mayor of Tirana, according to the documentation also presented in the SPAK file, is submitting a letter for the government to examine the possibility of expanding the Sharra landfill and involving the private sector in this project.

Veliaj's first letter, where he informs the government about the IFC study, is dated January 2016, addressed to the Ministry of Finance, which at that time was headed by Shkëlqim Cani.

The latter left office in February of that year to be replaced by Arben Ahmetaj. The same letter in content is also addressed to Ahmetaj.

In content, according to SPAK's file, Veliaj's letter asks the Government to consider the possibility of public-private partnership for landfill expansion and waste management. There is no mention of an incinerator in any of the documents.

Explained more simply, it is about two completely different projects. The one proposed by Veliaj is the IFC study, which started at the time when the Municipality of Tirana was headed by Lulzim Basha and where it is also proposed that the service fee that had to be paid to the private sector was 37 euros per ton of waste.

This project did not envisage the burning of waste, but only the collection, differentiation and recycling. Is it human error, or intentional confusion by the author of the article? All the ensuing debate suggests the second.

The article intentionally or unintentionally avoids this clarification for the reader, feeding the idea that the incinerator of Tirana was proposed by Erion Veliaj, at a time when the project, which was then approved by the Government, extends beyond the competences of the Municipality of Tirana.

The Mayor of Tirana has never denied that he has asked the Government to review all options for solving the environmental emergency at the Sharra landfill.

However, the proposal that he submitted to the Government is that of the IFC, while the project that was approved, which also includes the construction of the incinerator, is an unsolicited offer that arrived at the Ministry of Environment from Klodian Zoto.

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