Cyprus Mail

Government strikes deal on Nicosia waste management

File photo: waste treatment plant at Koshi

The government has struck a deal for the management of Nicosia district’s rubbish, paving the way for the closing down of the Kotsiatis landfill.

Following extended haggling with Helector, the company running the Koshi waste management unit, an agreement was reached on Friday.

According to a statement from the agriculture ministry, the Central Committee on Changes and Claims (KEAA) approved the supplementary agreement for the operation of the Koshi waste management facility, noting that it ‘undoubtedly serves the public interest’.

The agreement provides for paying Helector around € 17.5 million instead of the €19.5m the company was initially asking for and €29.1m resulting from the existing agreement.

That money was to cover operation fees owed to the company since January 2015.

The final text, the ministry said, will be finalised next week.

The conclusion of the supplementary agreement it said, ‘undoubtedly serves the public interest, as it provides for the transfer and management of the Nicosia district waste by the Koshi management facility’.

Therefore, it said, the Kotsiatis dump will be closed, ‘thus ensuring public health, complying with the judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union condemning the Republic of Cyprus and avoiding a possible unbearable fine’.

The agreement, the ministry said, achieved the goals pursued without increasing the total cost of the contract but rather decreasing it by approximately €11m, despite the doubling of the quantities of waste that will be received. This, it said, is due to the significant drop in the unit prices and the discount provided to the contractor’s accrued expenses.

The agreement also provides that any arrangements will not be linked with or in any way affect the procedures regarding the possibility of committing criminal offenses  or the procedures regarding the possibility of recovering any overpayments from the contractor.

The deal was achieved following a last-ditch attempt to find a solution to the problem of the management of Nicosia district’s waste and the pressing need to finally close down the Kotsiatis landfill. The deadline extension given by the EU to close down the landfill expired at the end of last year and that Cyprus was in a difficult spot.

Following a meeting at the presidential palace on Wednesday, President Nicos Anastasiades had given instructions for the competent state services to renegotiate with Helector and if possible reach an agreement based on the terms set by the KEAA.

The Kotsiatis rubbish dump was supposed to close in 2009 but after a plan to build a separate waste-management plant in Nicosia was scrapped, it was decided to transfer rubbish from Kotsiatis to the Koshi plant in Larnaca. Procedures for this were delayed following the bribery scandals and ensuing trials concerning Helector, which runs Koshi and Paphos sanitary landfills.

The issue was even further delayed following constant rejections by the Central Committee on Changes and Claims (KEAA) of deals agreed between the government and Helector on the management of the Nicosia district’s garbage.

The KEAA reportedly rejected last week another deal – the fourth rejected by the committee – because it disagreed with the estimated cost per tonne of garbage, in place since 2016. The committee, according to reports, had demanded lower costs.

The EU had initiated an infringement process last May for the delays with Cyprus looking at fines of around €30,000 for each day of delay.

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