Yerevan remains plagued by garbage ordeal
Yerevan has been plagued with a seemingly unsolvable garbage problem over the past few months.
Yerevan residents post photos of overloaded dumpsters on social media on a daily basis, and demand that the problem be solved.
The city government seems to be unable to find a way to influence the commercial company responsible for cleaning and garbage collection and force it to fulfill its obligations – Sanitek.
What the issue is remains unclear. In order to alleviate the current situation, the city authorities are buying new garbage trucks and dumpsters, and has allocated 900 million AMD (about $1.8 million) from the state budget to this end.
City Hall asks residents to show understanding
Press Secretary of Yerevan City Hall Hakob Karapetyan posted on his Facebook page a photo of two KamAZ garbage trucks, purchase by the mayor’s office acquired.
“They will start working within a week. We are waiting for the delivery of the remaining trucks in the coming weeks.
“On July 24 the first batch of new dumpsters was delivered, about 400. The problem with garbage collection will be gradually solved”, Karapetyan wrote.
Karapetyan also appealed to the residents of the capital “with a request to show understanding for the situation, which was created due to the inappropriate behavior of the garbage removal operator, and to be patient.”
Yerevan City Hall at a standoff with garbage collection company
The situation concerning garbage collection in Yerevan has been going on for almost a year now.
Responding to the reproaches of residents, the city authorities refer to the poor performance of the sole operator responsible for the collection and removal of garbage in Yerevan – Sanitek.
Yerevan Mayor Hayk Marutyan has publicly expressed dissatisfaction with the company’s work several times and stated “Yerevan residents will no longer tolerate work of this quality.”
In the spring of 2019, Sanitek was fined twice for not fulfilling its obligations, for a total 39 million drams ($80,000).
In mid-July, the company admitted that it had serious financial problems and explained them by “the unreasonable sanctions and fines” from the mayor’s office.
In addition, the company’s director, Nicolas El Tawil, said that their losses were also due to the fact that the mayor’s office was not fulfilling its promises: repairing the road that leads to the garbage dump on the outskirts of Yerevan. The head of Sanitek says that the road is so bad it causes damage to the company’s garbage trucks.
Economist and former mayor of Yerevan Vahagn Khachatryan assesses the current actions of Sanitek as sabotage. He stated this in an interview with Radio Azatutyun (RFE/RL).
“Recently I asked the workers what the reason was for such unsatisfactory work. They replied that there are no garbage trucks. For me this was very strange. What do you mean by no trucks? I can not understand this … I understand that this is sabotage. [They are attempting to] discredit the city authorities and the state.”
Khachatryan says that when Sanitek won the tender for cleaning and garbage collection in Yerevan, it had some sort of unwritten agreement with the previous authorities of the country, which do not cooperate with the current ones.
Sanitek is a branch of an Lebanese international waste management organization. The company was established in 2010, and since December 2014 it has been working in the capital of Armenia.
Sanitek won an international tender announced by the former authorities of Armenia. The initial investment of the company at the time when it began to perform its duties amounted to ten million euros.
Social media in an uproar
Social media users tirelessly and daily write angry comments to the mayor’s office and Sanitek company, accompanied by photos from different streets of Yerevan with overflowing garbage cans and dirty sidewalks.
The news of the acquisition of new machines for the removal of garbage and dumpsters calmed very few people and was instead used as an occasion to release a barrage of irony over the situation.
“It’s better late than never!”
“Who knows, are we the only country that gets excited over garbage cans? Maybe after that we will learn to treat with respect and care everything that we have?”
“Is it really impossible for some companies to rent a truck for garbage collection, so as not to bring the situation to such an extreme?”
“Are these trucks are being delivered to us from Mars? Is that why they are so slowly reaching Yerevan?”
“It is even a shame that today we count the number of garbage trucks.”
“The city can’t bear it any longer. Work at a faster pace!”