Albania We Want platform, ordinary citizens’ testimonies grow every day

Prime Minister Edi Rama’s weekly meeting with common citizens sharing their accounts on how through the help from the online platform Albania We Want have solved various personal and community problems:

Prime Minister Edi Rama: Welcome and thank you for taking the trouble to attend this meeting and share your experience of addressing the platform of co-governance with the citizens. Flamur will introduce the first case.

Flamur, co-governance platform coordinator: Mr. Mita had filed an application for legalization of his house in Shkozet, Durres, back in 2016. He had been regularly addressing the local legalization and urbanization agency over the past 12 years, but no solution was found. Taking notice of this situation, he finally decided to file his complaint with the co-governance platform in November 2018. Eventually, Mr. Mita was provided the due legalization permit following the cooperation with the Agency for Legalization and Urbanization of Informal Buildings and Areas (ALUIZNI).

Mr. Mita: After desperate attempts to solve the matter at ALUIZNI offices, at the very beginning, I was not convinced that the Platform would turn out so efficient. I had applied for legalization of my house since 2006, and I used to address to ALUIZNI anytime possible and my patience reached its limit in November 2018, when I was told that an ALUIZNI field team was already taking site measurements since April 2018. But no one had taken the trouble to notify or call me on the phone. No one knew where my file application was. I addressed the ALUIZNI office together with the field inspector and as the file application was not found, I decided to address the portal Albania We Want and a reply was sent promptly, saying “your complaint will be reviewed” within 24 hours. In less than a month later, on January 18th, I received the legalization permit thanks to this Platform and thanks to you Mr. Prime Minister.

PM Edi Rama: As we speak, there are certainly many other people facing same problem and I urge them to follow suit and address the Platform as we can tackle their concerns via thus Platform, but by doing so they will also help us to address our biggest concern we face with some worthless people, who, unfortunately are still to be found working in our public service agencies and offices, just like it was the yesterday’s case aired by the investigative show “Fiks Fare”, showing a regional director, who deserves to be called “a bastard”  and who has been immediately dismissed from the post. The Justice Minister will announce the decision about his dismissal as she is set to present her weekly report on anti-corruption fight, which coincides with this event on the co-governance.

Enada, co-governance Platform coordinator: Mr. Shtembari was provided the legalization permit in January 2017. Upon reception, he found out mistakes in the content of the legalization permit. Therefore, he addressed to the ALUIZNI office in Tirana to hand in the legalization permit to have it corrected. As his problem was not addressed for two years, the citizen decided to address the Co-Government Platform and in January of this year he was issued a corrected permit.

Mr. Mina Shtëmbari: I am a Tirana resident since 1978. In 1998, I bought a plot of land to build a house for my family. I was granted the required permits according to the law and urban planning acts and I kicked off the works to construct the house then. I didn’t succeed in gaining the construction permit and therefore I applied for legalization of the dwelling in 2006. Five years later in 2011, after a series of applications, I received a bill on the infrastructure service payment to the bank. I made the payment and I was expecting for the legalization permit to be granted so that I could apply for the ownership certificate.  But it was a mission impossible. I kept trying, contacting officials and sending letters. Frankly saying, I was really exhausted and angry provoked by injustice. Although the law was clear, the then administration failed to act properly. In 2016, my patience reached its limit. I intensified my efforts again and sent a letter to the Director of ALUIZNI, Mr. Artan Lame. He ordered his subordinates to review the case, but ALUIZNI employees failed to take actions. After all these attempts, I succeeded in collecting my legalization permit in 2017. However, the document was worded incorrectly, as my father’s name was changed and the land surface area was not correct. Such mistakes could be technical ones, but they can be verified and corrected properly. But no one lifted a finger. In 2018, I wrote again to ALUIZNI Director Artan Lame and the Minister of Justice, as nothing was changing. ALUIZNI structures failed to provide any reply. I asked for a meeting with the current Director of Tirana local ALUIZNI office. Two days ahead of the meeting, I received an e-mail from the co-governance platform, confirming that I was right. A rhetoric of boring replies from ALUIZNI office ensued. I don’t know whether Mr. Lame is aware of the situation there, but what I am saying is a true fact. The situation has now changed. Finally, I received the due legalization permit and I am now applying for the ownership certificate. So, I had to address your platform, Mr. Prime Minister, that produced the desired effect. This is a fact. This is the effect of the co-governance office. Yet, these issues can’t be resolved always this way, because the Platform can’t be always the way out for the people to address their problems. The public administration itself should work, show more commitment and carry out duties according to the rules and legal provisions.

PM Edi Rama: It was a long account of a long train of enormous suffering. However, I reserve myself the right not to agree what you said in the end, because I believe that the Platform is the solution. I believe the Platform is the medicine to heal the chronic diseases inherited by a bureaucracy far from being a normal standard bureaucracy. That’s why, public complaint offices are established in the developed countries too. The French President’s website offers a special section for the complained forwarded by the public, just for a very simple reason, because there is no perfect bureaucracy and people often fall prey to the bureaucratic procedures and lack of coordination between the state institutions. With the platform, you have the public complaints office in your own pocket. So, you no longer need to go to such an office and file a complaint in person. You no longer need to write countless letters that no one reads. Instead, it takes just three minutes and your problem is forwarded to the relevant authority tasked with functioning of that sector, and that is the relevant minister. This way, the bureaucracy is under double pressure and you can help us to identify problems and the individuals who cause such problems. This way, we will also be able to gradually improve the public administration and get rid of the untrained and uneducated public officials, although the administration has started improving, but it is yet far from being the administration we want. Therefore, the Platform is decisive.

That’s why what you shared with us today is crucially important so people find out that the Platform works for everyone.

Flavia, co-governance platform coordinator: The case I am about to introduce concerns a young lady from Tirana. For months, she had been complaining with the relevant structures over a water pipe failing, causing water shortages and seriously damaging the paved road in the neighbourhood where she resides. After continued complaints for several months, she decided to address the matter to the co-governance platform. The case was immediately forwarded to the Water Supply and Sewerage Enterprise in Tirana, with their specialists verifying the situation on the ground and fixing the pipe.

Miss Esmeralda Skenderi: I would like to appreciate Prime Minister for the invitation and launching the co-governance platform that is increasingly addressing almost all problems concerning Albanian citizens. Since we face many problems, which the institutions tasked with solving them fail to do so, we are then forced to address the co-governance Platform. The Water Supply and Sewerage Enterprise has been doing reconstruction and repair works along the water and sewerage pipeline system, but they always caused other damages. The neighborhood where I reside was not being supplied with water for a month, while the paved street was damaged. Following a number of complaints that fell on deaf ears, OI decided to address the Platform in order to have this problem tackled. I received a reply within five days and the problem concerning the whole community was finally solved. It is not a façade, but a platform that really addresses countless problems.

PM Edi Rama: The Platform has really tackled many personal and community issues. What we need is to increase trust in the Platform, because we still face understandable and natural distrust. But people can trust it once they try the Platform, once they file their complaints and see for themselves how it works. To us, it is quite important that optimal conditions are created not only to figure out the problems, but also those who cause these problems and take actions against them.

Adela, co-governance platform coordinator: Indeed, it took complaint filed by Mr. Gazment Hoxha, a resident in Kashar administrative unit, and the intervention by the Co-governance platform for the Water Supply and Sewerage Enterprise in Tirana to act and eliminate a significant economic damage caused by a firm engaged in construction works in the area. During the construction process, the private firm had damaged the water supply system in the area, flooding also the car garages.

Mr. Gazment Hoxha: I filed a request to the Water Supply and Sewerage Enterprise, but no solution was provided. I waited in vain for someone to come and address the matter, but no one showed up. Therefore, I decided to address the Co-Governance Platform. The Water Supply and Sewerage Enterprise representatives called shortly after. The specialists verified the problem. The water pipe has been damaged by the firm awarded the contract to build a new water pipeline system in the area. The garages are no longer flooded and everything is now OK thanks to the Co-Governance Platform. Five days ago, I have filed another request about a road in our neighborhood in Yzberish. The Power Transmission System operator has carried out some works in the area two years ago, laying the high-voltage cables, but without laying the asphalt protective covering. The road used to be paved, but the asphalt has now been removed. With the rainfall, the situation there has further deteriorated. I would be very grateful if you address this matter too. Thank you everyone for tackling the issue of flooding water.

Adela, Co-Governance Platform coordinator: Although it is the very first time when an excellent student addressed the Platform following a two-year ping-pong between various institutions regarding her employment right, it took the Platform’s intervention at Durres Municipality to ensure that Miss Violeta Manjani is found a job placement. Let Vjoleta Manjani, the citizen from Durres, the example of employment of excellent students.

Miss Violeta Manjani: Greetings everyone. I would like to appreciate Mr. Prime Minister for the opportunities he is providing to students. Many students are protesting. I am one of the excellent students at Durres University and I am graduated in preschool teaching and I am currently attending the master degree program on management of education institutions. I have always had the feeling of being a privileged student under the excellence student programme from which I have benefited a lot. I filed a request to the Durres Municipality, asking local government authorities for a job position. I filed the application and attended the test under the portal “Teachers for Albania.” I ranked among the first ones in Durres. Based on my results, I always believed I would be hired. For two years now, I have been constantly visiting the Durres Municipality and the Regional Education Directorate, but no one tackled the problem, saying the municipal authorities were responsible for the preschool education system. Finally, I decided to address the Co-Governance Platform. I filed my complained, explaining my situation. Today I am happy having found a job. I have been notified by the co-governance coordinator that a job placement has been found. I want to express gratitude to the Prime Minister, who has been always strongly supporting students and I don’t really understand why do they keep protesting.

PM Edi Rama: I would ask you not to refrain from commending us, because they will accuse you of being member of the Socialist Youth Forum? Are you a member of the Socialist Youth Forum?

Vjoleta Manjani: No, I am not.

PM Edi Rama: Everyone will speculate that you are a Socialist Youth Forum member. You should urgently delete the social networks account if you want to prevent or stop cyberbullying. There are some bulls on Instagram and Facebook, who pay in return of attacks against students, who speak rationally. But the truth is that this is a very beautiful moment, because the student protest has given us the great opportunity to stop political employment in the public administration. All vacancies in the public administration will be made available to best performing students with grade points average 9 and 10. The new platform “Good Work”, which can be accessible via the platform Albania We Want, has already registered the first 800 applications for the vacancies on offer. Meanwhile, a second batch of vacant job positions in the public administration is being prepared and will be announced soon. Any vacant position in the public administration will be available to the best performing students. The vacant positions are initially being offered to the students who have been graduated last year and then they will become to students who will graduate this year and it will extend further in the future. Important is the fact that students are being given top priority.

Meanwhile, what Violeta already said is something somehow different and difficult. As Violeta mentioned, it is all because of an impasse with the local government authorities, as we insist on the merit-based system in picking preschool education system teachers, but, on the other hand, the local authorities do not always place the deserved attention to this fact. Regarding the case in question, the Platform’s intervention was needed to make sure that Violeta is appointed preschool education teacher.

Katerina, Co-Governance Platform coordinator: In October 2018, Mr. Bujar Koka had filed an application with the Immovable Property Registration Office in Tirana to correct his property ownership certificate. But Mr. Koka was provided no information or explanation over his problem and therefore he addressed the Co-Governance Platform. In less than six days, he was provided the corrected property ownership certificate.

Mr. Bujar Koka: I had requested a review of the property ownership certificate to change the incorrectly written name of my father. I was supposed to receive a response since October. I filed then a complaint with the Agency for the Delivery of Integrated Services, but no reply was provided. Therefore, I finally filed a complaint with the Co-Governance Platform and an instant reply was sent via SMS, confirming that my complaint was being reviewed. Two or three days later was informed that my problem had been finally solved. I would like to extend my appreciation for the Platform, which works properly and it is not false, as someone might think.

PM Edi Rama: Thank you very much for taking the trouble to come here and convey the message that the Platform is a quick solution for long-standing problems.

Dorina, Co-Governance Platform coordinator: Six years ago, in 2012, Mr. Bedri Vërjoni, a resident in Maminas administrative unit, Shijak Municipality, had received a heavy electricity bill amounting over 27000 kilowatts a month. He filed a complaint against this electricity bill, but no solution was provided since then. He had kept complaining about the overbilling, addressing to the then Power Distributor Operator (CEZ), but failing to tackle his problem. Then he decided to access the online Platform and the co-governance coordinators helped to solve the case through the Power Distribution Operator (OSHEE). The OSHEE specialists checked the meter and also get the meter readings confirmed, administered all archive documentation, also reviewed the billing history of the citizen and concluded that this was an unfair overbilling. Now it is billed according to real consumption on the meter and for this case has started an administrative investigation into the responsible persons.

Mr. Bedri Vërjoni: I would like to express my appreciation for launching the Portal for co-governance with the citizens. In 2012, I received an electricity billing amount 4.324 million lek. I addressed the OSHEE offices in Tirana and Shijak to complain over the electricity overbilling. The checked the meter, but they still refused to remove the overbilling. I kept complaining, but the problem was not resolved. Listening to you speaking on TV, I became firmly convinced and addressed the Platform immediately. I received a reply in five days and I was really relieved, because I had to pay a huge amount. I will address the Platform again to complain over a problem I face with the Immovable Property Registration Office in Durres.

PM Edi Rama: You need to keep writing and addressing the Platform, whereas we will just obey orders. What is important is to convince as many people as possible to address the Platform. Do not waste time, do not accumulate negative energy from the indecent reactions from public administration employees, and don’t seek other ways through friends and bribery in order to receive a public service you are entitled to. The Platform costs you nothing and it provides solutions.

Thank you very much also for taking the trouble to attend this meeting and share your experience with the Platform and helping the others to find the right path in order to tackle their problems in real time.