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Tuesday 18.09.2018 | Name days: Liesma, Elita, Alita
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Chaos in waste management industry; still many uncertainties

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Soon the times when Riga residents, house managers and business men were able to choose the ones to transport their waste will become a thing of the past. The last year’s decision made by the Constitution Court forces a change in the order in which waste is managed in different cities. There are many uncertainties right now, but either the municipality will announce waste managers in the middle of summer or it will take up this responsibility on its own, as reported by Latvian Radio.

It is noted that Riga currently has an open market on waste transport. House owners and businessmen are free to choose companies to sign contracts with. The market is considered free because there are only six firms that are allowed to work in Riga. L&T, ex-prime minister’s Andris Skele’s family company Vides pakalpojumu grupa (previously known as Veolia and Nelsens), Swedish Ragn-Sells and Eko Riga. There are also contracts valid until 2020 with Eko Kurzeme and Cleanway, but they do not offer any services.

Many market players benefited from the fact that Riga has some of the lowest waste disposal tariffs in Latvia. But the opposition of the system like to call in arguments that areas of work overlap: i.e., some streets have trucks of different companies roam the same streets, as well as claim that there is not enough supervision over waste management.

The previous Riga City Council repeatedly tried to gain more influence over the waste business. But while the politicians were incapable of doing it, this was instead achieved by the Constitution Court.

Last week, in an interview to Latvian Radio, Mayor of Riga Nil Ushakov declined the fact that there were any contracts signed in Riga without contests. The mayor promised to work on making sure nothing changes in the waste management industry. But what Ushakov said is far from reality. Because of his leave it was impossible to find out exactly what he meant by saying that no changes are planned for the Riga waste management industry. But the partners of the ruling coalition are already preparing new waste management rules, because the decision of the Constitutional Court cannot be ignored.

Lobbel firm had a litigation in the court. The municipality forbid the company to participate in waste management. The case ended up at the Senate. The latter asked the opinion of the Constitutional Court. The court concluded that the responsible regulation unjustifiably protects the contracts signed for long periods of time.

The decision of the Constitutional Court provides that such contracts lose their authority starting from July 2013. This is because such contracts create unjustified advantages for specific groups of people and notably troubles public interests. According to the manager of Riga City Council’s Housing and Environment Committee Vyacheslav Stepanenko, a good solution would be to divide Riga into several separate areas, with separate contests.

According to current practice, competition benefits residents. Areas that held contests have the lowest tariffs. Low expenses are found in Pieriga municipalities. However, areas with municipal companies usually have the highest tariffs.

Maris Kucinskis of the Latvian Large Cities Association explains this with population density and close vicinity of landfills.

 


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