It’s a story, a horror one, but make no mistake this is no fictional story. It’s so true and painful that anger shakes my bones…
In one of the corners of Tirana, you find Rolling Hills luxury residences. It makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? If New York has its own Upper East or West Side, LA- Beverly Hills, of course that Tirana wouldn’t be left behind.
Ironically, there is another opposite corner of the city, where you find another hill. This is a small hill, Sharra’s Landfill. Recycling companies, operate here to gather, collect, divide and disassemble urban wastes. We are talking about 300.000 tons/year of wastes and according to statistics only 20-22% of this amount can be recycled. This is a place, where nearby inhabitants go to work, not to starve to death as they have no other means to earn money. They have surrendered to the misery and such conditions as they have no other choice. No safety policies! No safe gears to work with or equipment! No insurance! Only exploitation.
Lately this hill has been rightfully labeled as the “Rolling Hill of Death”.
The funniest thing is that when you listen to politics’ propaganda, the picture is so twisted. Where to start? Oh yeah, our dear Mayor, has got some amazing marketing and advertisement skills.
Do you need a job? This is the right place for you, an honest one. You see these people working in safe conditions and insurance included. Everyone is invited to come and work here.
Nice. But harsh reality is like gravity. You can’t pretend it’s not there.
The story starts with Ardit Gjoklaj, a 17-year-old boy. He works in the Landfill, a 3R company employee. After work, goes back home to his parents. It’s been a month, working in that toxic place. I mean literally toxic, it’s no euphemism. He needs money to provide for his family. His father unfortunately can’t make it on his own. He needs money, to buy some new clothes and books, for the new academic year approaching. Ardit works the night shift, choosing the most difficult task, as it pays a couple of Leke* more.
August the 7th 2016, was just another ordinary day. At 7.30 am he should have got back home, but that day he didn’t. His family started looking for him. And he was nowhere to be found. Did someone know? Had someone seen him? Where was he?
Later, his dead body was found. He had terrible wounds on his torso, his spine completely damaged, his body nearly disfigured. He was only 17!
Was it an accident? Yes, or maybe not. Is it safe to work there? NO. Did the company 3R, the one in charge for recycling the wastes, take responsibility for what happened? NO. Did they at least provide an evidence? NO. Quite the opposite, evidence was being hidden or even destroyed. Reality was being denied with calm and cool professionalism by several institutions, the municipality, the General Department of Employment, wonder why, since as the propaganda sells “everything is in order, according to the law”. Questions were being raised. Where they being answered? NO.
Documents were being demanded according to our current legislation; reports; be it charge sheets or other written records. Do you want to know the answer? It’s SILENCE.
Written agreements between this 3R company and several institutions, agreements where nothing is clear, where questions rise, as nothing looks that limpid and everything looks abusive and corrupted to the core. Children labor, is it ok? Heavy labor? Is it ok, there are no safety policies? Is it ok, that no one is accountable for what happened or what might happen to these people working in dirt, with all sorts of poisoning gases and other chemical residues?
Is it ok, that this company and others of the sort have a 8 million euros/year income as a result of the landfill business and looking at these pictures, these people are poor to the core, left with no other options of survival?
A couple of weeks after August the 7th, the Landfill was shut down, to be reopened again a while later and operating in full force. Coincidence?
A journalists investigation team, starts searching for the truth. These people go to the field, to see the landfill. They interview family and the only witnesses that were consenting to talk in front of the cameras. Others were in denial, bribed or blackmailed, who knows? Just another mystery.
But why so many questions? Why so much doubt? What’s wrong with these people? Are they insane? How dare they even question, such things? Transparency? Honesty? Integrity? Development? Besides, nothing happened really. The municipality goes on shutting down the story or denying. Attention is naturally switched to the great era of achievements, and how prosperous Tirana has become, isn’t it right Mayor, Mr. Erion Veliaj?
Is it still ok, that after everything has happened, one of the administrators is on the run, wanted by the police? He must have been sooooo good to escape right? God forbid our police forces are the most efficient in duh freaking world.
Is it ok, that the night shift supervisor is the only one that has been arrested? I mean, who are you trying to fool? Oh these sweet little fish in the ocean, just make stupid citizens like me, crave for more fish. The big ones. Call me sick, because I am sick of rotten shallow speeches full of lies and bullshit.
Right 5 minutes before being aired on a national TV, the editorial was shut down and the staff was dismissed. Anyhow, you can’t kill the truth can you? Find Publicus (the editorial) on any Albanian online portal.
However, the editor was fired right on the spot. Just like that, no plausible explanation provided. Quite the opposite, ludicrous, unbelievable ones. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was under the false pretense of incompetence.
Nevertheless, I still demand answers!
And Ardit’s family rightfully seeks and wants justice.
So please, anyone who reads this: Spread and share the candle of truth. Regardless, small and weak it’s still the truth.
*Leke- Albanian currency 1 €= 140 Leke