YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Yerevan authorities will go ahead with their efforts to try to solve the current garbage crisis in the city “with or without” the current monopolist waste management operator, mayor of the Armenian capital Hayk Marutyan told a local online publication late on Friday.
Marutyan thus effectively rejected the terms offered by Sanitek, an underperforming Lebanese-run waste management company, for a joint quick fix to the problem.
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) since the beginning of this year for falling short of required standards in waste management.
The company has blamed its difficulties in organizing proper garbage disposal in Yerevan on poor infrastructure 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 the company is ready to immediately invest $4 million for the purchase of new garbage trucks and containers and keep annually investing in the purchase of 500 containers and upgrading the available fleet of trucks.
Sanitek’s director, however, called on the municipality to improve the infrastructure at the landfill near Yerevan, revise the existing contract price and repay the already applied “unlawful deductions.”
“As we say, one hand doesn’t clap. We need two hands to clap,” concluded El Tawil.
Speaking live on 1in TV, Mayor Marutyan again criticized Sanitek for its poor performance and insisted that they are not up to the job. He stressed that Yerevan’s municipality has been providing full financing to Sanitek without any delays and spoke against raising the contract price with the company, which would inevitable entail the rise of tariffs for the population.
“Yerevan must be cleaned,” Marutyan emphasized. “We will clean up Yerevan with or without Sanitek. We are embarking on this process, following a very concrete and straightforward path.”
Marutyan said that efforts in this direction are underway and until the end of September almost the entire required quantity of garbage trucks will be available for Yerevan. According to the mayor, Yerevan’s authorities will be able to deduct waste management expenses from the price of the contract they have with Sanitek if the company continues to underperform.
Sanitek Armenia, which is a branch of the Lebanese-headquartered Sanitek International Group, has a 12-year contract with Yerevan as a monopolistic waste management operator. It began its work in Yerevan in December 2014.
The company has threatened to apply for international arbitration to resolve its dispute with the Yerevan municipality.
In a press release on Friday Sanitek said that on Monday it will start “pre-arbitration” contacts with the Armenian government, thus showing that it “does not shut the door for continued negotiations with the municipality in order to find a mutually acceptable and optimal solution that will also be the best for the population.”