Money “overflows” from city hall’s ark, 8 mln euros per year collected from parking

The investigation reveals that during 2018 the number of fines received due to erroneous parking in the Municipality of Tirana has gone to 74,191 from only 32, 342 that was a year ago. The value obtained as a result of the collection of fines was estimated at 1.8 million euros.

If you live or work in the center of Tirana, one of the problems you will face is parking.

Set tariffs (100 lek / hour) for the intended parking to discourage car driving especially in the center of the capital.

But if you are an immigrant, a foreigner, a visitor from Kosovo or do not have a cell phone, then parking becomes a nightmare because since September 2018 parking in Tirana streets is only paid by sending an SMS with the vehicle license plate and the parking area.

When Tirana Parking at the service of paid parking, you can pay by picking up the ticket at the “parking inspectors” on the street or by sending an SMS with the license plate of the vehicle, the area and how many hours it will stay. Tirana Parking was created as a subordinate agency of the Municipality of Tirana and began operating in 2016 with the object of administering a public parking service in the Municipality of Tirana on land and underground.

The Center for Qualitative Journalism found complaints by citizens, which are also known by local authorities.

In a letter dated 11 September 2018, which the Center has available, the mayor of Tirana, Erion Veliaj, addressing the Public Procurement Agency finds that there have been many complaints from the citizens on the method of payment by SMS, as some hadn’t have financial (credit) credit on the mobile and that difficulties were encountered in collecting parking fees, since foreign citizens who do not have an Albanian number can not benefit from this service.

The Municipality of Tirana decided to diversify the payment method for parking in January.

At the meeting of the City Council of January 31, the payment method was added to the employees of Tirana Parking or alternative ways as self-service equipment. Although earlier in the municipality report, he wrote that he intended to avoid the form of payment with the inspector to avoid abuses.

A company currently operating in the domestic market in the area of ​​payment service (where it currently performs telephone payments, OSHEE, UKT etc.) Using electronic devices, “expressed the interest in offering this alternative payment service”, – the letter that Veliaj leads the Public Procurement Agency.

The self-service devices appeared months ago on the road Myslym Shyri and Ibrahim Rugova under parking signs with the inscription “You can pay here too”. The equipment of a private company stays there, as they do not yet offer the parking payment service.

The opposition at the City Council has asked Tirana Parking to buy its own equipment and provide cash payment services by avoiding the “concession”, as the Socialist Movement for Integration councilors described in the City Council meeting where the forms were approved the new parking lot with the votes of the majority called the increase of payment methods.

The incomes from fines compete parking

All 69 roads, running Tirana Parking, have become a “mine” for the company.

The data officially received by the Tirana Municipal Police indicate that from 2017 to 2018 there are doubling of fines imposed on parking. Calculating the number of fines for 2018, it turns out that 2 fines are imposed every 1 minute.

In case a citizen parks in paid places and does not pay the ticket or exceeds the parking time, he is fined. Tirana Municipal Police exercises this competence based on the Road Code (Article 155), “Stoping, Staying and Rest of Vehicles”.

Fines are growing gallopingly. If in 2017 there were 32,342 fines, in 2018 fines were doubled to 74,191, based on the official data we received from the Municipal Police. Calculating the number of fines for 2018 and dividing it with 264 business days, when it turns out that 281 fines per day or around 2 fines for every 1 minute have been set.

The income that the municipality collects from fines is greater than the revenue collected from all parking, roads, squares and underground. If we receive on average a fine in zone A of 3000 lekë and there are 39 roads, 2018 accounts for 222 million lek or 1.8 million euros collected from fines, while the value collected from all parking for 2018 is about 270 million lekë or 2.1m euros.

Fines have become a concern for businesses too

“Customers buy a pair of 4,000 leke shoes and get a fine of 3000,000 leke, so it’s no longer in thir mind to come to me, so the business is going down,” Aurora Shehaj, the manager of a boutique at “Myslym Shyri” street, says.

On paid roads in European capitals or as it operates at Mother Teresa airport, there is a tolerance for free parking about 4-7 minutes.

“There are many complaints where the Municipal Police is not intended to monitor, but is waiting for a minute delay so that you can get a fine. The imposition of fines has therefore become a goal for the Municipal Police, “Edi Fero tells of the concerns that citizens address to him as the leader of the Albanian Consumer Association.

Tirana Parking Agency decided to remove the “parking inspectors” from the streets (in 2018 there were 115 employees), but the number of municipal policemen who fined for the wrong parking lot has also increased dramatically, from 323 in 2016 , to 428 in 2018.

Reserved parking

Analyzing the sources of money collection for parking in three years, it turns out that the highest income comes from “parking on reservation”. Individuals, companies or taxi services can reserve the place throughout the year or in certain parts of it by parking them alone.

The subscription contract for 1 year (Monday to Friday), with 12 hours per day per municipality costs 221,760 Lek per year. But if we calculate the income that the municipality would collect in a day from paid parking, where one hour costs 100 Lek, a sum of 316,800 Lek would be collected annually.

“Reserved parking is privatization. So it is not served volume (frequency) of use, but the revenue volume, so it’s bad. The purpose of the tariff is not only to generate revenue, but also to improve parking, not letting people park all day, “says Akil Kraja, adviser to the Democratic Party at the Tirana Municipal Council.

According to Edi Fero, one of the many complaints is that many business owners have occupied seven or eight parking spaces in front of the business and hence make it difficult for the resident to find parking even with pay.

All paid roads

In January 2016, Tirana became the first city in Albania to start paying tariffs for payed roads. Tirana Park, a Tirana-based agency, which administers today 3 parking areas, A, B and C, has been created by a Tirana City Board decision, starting from 100 Lek for one hour of parking, followed by 40 and 20 lekë.

Three years after launching payment for parking on the streets of Tirana, the parking agency administers 69 streets. In zone A of parking there are 39 roads, in zone B, 9 streets and the rest according to the agency is being worked for the equipment with the relevant signaling. According to the decision of the Tirana City Council, on one street parking places are allocated to those with a fee, on reservation, free of charge and parking dedicated to persons with disabilities.

The scheme works for 5 days a week, Monday to Friday, at 7:30 am to 20:00 pm.

The idea of ​​local lawmakers was that not all of the street spaces, whether in the center, should be paid.

The Journalism Center monitored the allocation of free and free parking spaces on the Myslym Shyri road, where it resulted that, according to the City Council Decision for “payment and reservation sites”, there was a 60% quota while on the ground we found about 76%. As of the 40% that was determined in the decision for the “free parking” category, we found about 24%.

“In this case have lost the citizens! It’s all illegal … the number of parking lots can not be increased without asking the City Council, “says opposition adviser, Akil Kraja.

Even on Ibrahim Rugova road have been added to the rate set for paid parking places, halving them for free. In the decision of the City Council, Boulevard Zogu I is determined to have paid parking only on the west side, but the Municipality of Tirana has turned both sides of the paid road.

All other situation is in Kavaja Street, where free parking spaces are above the specified rate, while in Luigj Gurakuqi Street and Kosovar Street the rates were according to the City Council Decision.

From the complete survey of the Journalism Center on two of the main streets of the capital, Myslym Shyri and Ibrahim Rugova, it turned out that the parking and reservation parking places were at higher rates than the decision taken by the City Council, adding to the expense of free parking places and almost halving their number.

“Tirana Parking staff carries out on-site verifications on changing the number of real sites and then in collaboration with the Transport and Traffic Directorate carries out the processing of the planes with the relevant changes to approve the changed percentage of parking places,” he replied officially the Tirana Municipality for the Center.

As the municipality stated that the feasibility study for paid roads has performed its structures, it did not respond to our request to provide a feasibility study for each street.

According to Edi Feros representing consumer problems, the allocation of parking places should have included community consultation according to the “Law on Public Consultation”, but this has not happened.

Myslym Shyri Street in Tirana is a shopping street, where on its two sides are active about 360 businesses. Aurora Shehaj, who manages a boutique on this street, says the state should have a more easing policy regarding paid parking spaces.

“Only when we saw the coats with the vest, we learned about parking on the street with pay, as we did not have any prior information from the municipality,” she told Center.

“A massive fine is imposed here as a result of not informing people. More tables are needed, as the lines are deleted and people are walking with the idea that there are parking workers. Police arrive very quickly,and when the clients return, they find the sheet on the glass “, – says Aurora Shehaj.

Parking for an hour there, where along with 38 other roads is classified as parking zone A, costs 100 Lek. With blue lines are marked parking spaces with pay, yellow ones with reservation and white free parking. The parking problem in Tirana is not only for businesses and visitors, but also for the peoples themselves, for whom more and more days are becoming impossible to find a free place for their vehicles.

* Journalist Geri Emiri, Editor Lutfi Dervishi

*** Note

This article was realized within the project “Tiranalytics: An Assessment of the Public Expenditure of Local Government in the Municipality of Tirana” supported by LevizAlbania. The opinions and attitudes expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinions and attitudes of the donor.