A Lebanese-run waste management company has offered a plan to authorities in Yerevan to end a yearlong garbage crisis in the city that specialists say contains risks to public health.
Sanitek has for months been under fire for its poor work in the Armenian capital, with the city authorities fining the company a total of 90 million drams (about $190,000) during the period for falling short of required standards in waste management.
Yerevan Mayor Hayk Marutian has not concealed his dissatisfaction with the work of the waste management company. During consultations at the municipality on July 29 he accused Sanitek of “only seeking profits and having no feeling of responsibility.”
Marutian, who has repeatedly said before that he was also mindful of the contract obligations related to Sanitek, also spoke about the possibility of the Yerevan municipality’s resolving the waste management crisis in the city through its own efforts.
Sanitek, for its part, has blamed its difficulties in organizing proper garbage disposal in Yerevan on poor roads and excessive damage to its equipment. The company has also claimed that the Yerevan municipality is not willing to cooperate with it on acceptable terms.
At a press conference in Yerevan on Friday, speaking via Skype, Sanitek’s director Nicholas El Tawil offered his vision of short-term and long-term solutions to the garbage crisis in Yerevan. In particular, he said that since Yerevan authorities have already purchased a certain quantity of new trucks and dustbins, they could join efforts with Sanitek to put an end to the current garbage crisis within a short period of time. El Tawil also urged the municipality to stop a negative portrayal of Sanitek in the media.
“As a long-term solution we are ready to immediately make an investment of $4 million for the purchase of new garbage trucks and dustbins,” he said, adding that the company will also need to invest annually to purchase 500 dustbins and keep upgrading the available fleet of trucks as far as possible.
Sanitek’s director also said that the company will introduce corporate governance to provide transparency and accountability and will introduce to the municipality “a system of horizontal monitoring.” “And we are ready to do the restructuring of the financial liabilities,” he said.
Meanwhile, according to El Tawil, the municipality should on its part draft and implement a waste management policy and action plan, improve the infrastructure at the Nubarashen landfill near Yerevan, introduce a large-scale waste management policy and strengthen the supervision.
Sanitek’s director also spoke about the need for revising the existing contract price “by having an extra opinion” that, he said, will assess the commercial value of the services provided by the company.
El Tawil also said that the municipality should extend the terms of the agreement with Sanitek and repay the already applied “unlawful deductions.”
“As we say, one hand doesn’t clap. We need two hands to clap,” concluded Sanitek’s director El Tawil.
The Yerevan municipality did not respond immediately to the proposals.
During the press conference Sanitek representatives also described the criminal case launched against the company over alleged tax evasion as unlawful. Armenia’s tax authorities insist that Sanitek failed to pay 290 million drams (over $600,000) in taxes, while the company explains that it did not evade taxes, but simply benefited from the law that gives certain tax preferences to foreign investors.