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Wednesday 22.01.2020 | Name days: Austris

Latvian government extends state of emergency with waste management in Riga

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Riga, waste management, VARAMAlthough Riga City Council has stated multiple times that it is not necessary to extend the state of emergency with waste management, Latvia’s government has nevertheless decided to extend it until March 2020.

Opponents of the initiative prepared by Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry included Economy Minister Ralfs Nemiro, Welfare Minister Ramona Petraviča and Interior Affairs Minister Sandis Ģirģens.

Riga City Council chairman Oļegs Burovs had sent a letter to the prime minister and environment protection ministry, informing the two that what was previously ordered to do in regards to waste management has already been accomplished and that provision of waste management services continues unhindered.

«What is happening right now is an attempt to divert society’s attention from true problems in the medical sector, the administrative territorial reform and other problematic issues. There is no waste management crisis in Riga – it is obvious to any resident. Waste management is performed and will continue being performed after 11 December. The rest is political rhetoric,» stresses Burovs.

Meanwhile, Environment Protection and Regional Development Minister Juris Pūce believes Riga municipality has lost its organizational capabilities and even though the government and Saeima had given the municipality a degree of faith prior to declaration of a state of emergency, nothing has been done in the past three months and the option to organize proper waste management services in accordance with regulations has not been used.

Although during the talks procedure Riga City Council has reached an agreement with waste management companies about continuation of services, it is not possible for residents and businesses to resign new contracts on services before the end of the state of emergency, the ministry says.

In the annotation to the legislative draft the ministry notes that Riga City Council has done nothing to ensure uninterrupted provision of waste management services and prevent a man-made disaster related to environmental pollution and risks for human health.

The ministry reminds that looking at Riga City Council’s inability to perform its functions in accordance with Waste Management Law, on 12 September the Cabinet of Ministers decided to declare a state of emergency in Riga. The decision was later supported by the Saeima.

«Riga City Council has performed part of its duties, but completion cannot be applied to the goal outlined in Section 1 – uninterrupted collection and transportation of household waste within Riga’s administrative territory in a long-term perspective,» the ministry claims.

This means the municipality’s activities create doubts everything is done to ensure the situation is resolved after 11 December.

Read also: If Riga City Council fails to resolve waste management problem, Pūce may initiate dismissal

Because Riga City Council has not been able to ensure stable waste management services and choice of waste management service provider for residents in accordance with regulations, as well as because the city council has not been able to come up with a plan to act after the declaration of the state of emergency, the Cabinet of Ministers needs to extend the state of emergency for three months, the ministry believes.

According to the ministry, even if the city council agrees with waste management service providers on continuation of service provision, it is not possible to sign new contracts with residents and businesses by 11 December.

This is why the ministry proposed extending the state of emergency until 12 March 2020, and making it the institution responsible for coordinating activities during the state of emergency.

At the same time, the order details a requirement for Riga City Council to reach an agreement with waste management companies that the contract reached during the talks procedure is to remain in force for as long as the state of emergency.

Additionally, the city council needs to provide waste management services after 12 December regardless if contracts were signed with waste management service providers through a procurement procedure and ensure that throughout the entire duration of the extended state of emergency the fee for waste management services is applied in accordance with actual handled household waste volume.

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