By: Fatime Menalla
“They usually ask me and I am so ashamed”…
This was a piece of the conversation I had a few days ago with a friend of mine from Elbasan, who guides foreign tourists visiting Albania.
I thought … to be ashamed of your country is both a shame in itself. In fact I cannot blame Edi (my friend); Komani Lake is in a terrible situation. No one is saying anything or taking any responsibility, as they pass it on to the other party as if Koman were an orphan child.
Albania is benefiting nothing from power shifts, because eventually it looks as if everything is at a standstill. The fear of dismissal has made every municipal employee shut up. In vain (though I do not want to believe it) I seek to find out why isn’t Komani Lake cleaned and who brought it to the current condition.
In an attempt to talk to someone, someone who sees the situation every day, I could speak with a staff member of the hydro power plant built on this lake.
He does not want to be identified, but for the sake of my relationship with his sister says: “Look here my sister, it is not our fault. Tons of garbage runs every day into the lake from the rivers that flow into it. The situation of the lake could not be otherwise – it is transformed into a garbage bin. A boat trip on the lake is no longer the way it was in the past. Now it stinks and you blush when you see the terrible condition this beauty of nature is brought to.”
You could not blame that employee; practically the fabulous trip on the lake has become regret hereafter.
People talk about a new administrative division, with which the opposition does not agree, but the government is firmly supporting it and … maybe this is why the lake looks like an orphan child. Or maybe the new political appointments have transformed the lake into a place where every irresponsible person can dump anything he/she likes.
The hydro power plant employee follows, as if he could read my thoughts out: “Once the power was changed, the director was also changed here. We felt very comfortable with the former director, but the latter has made things tough. We have to come to work every day, at any account. Everything runs like a clock here, but the director still wants us to work every day.”
This confession of his made my mind go somewhere else, to what the local government highlights saying that lack of monetary power has left the lake at this condition.
Everything remains lukewarm or better put it – heated for the second time, in terms of a response to that concern.
Where is Komani Lake located?
Komani Lake is located 30 km far from the city of Shkodra. It is formed by the reservoir of Drini River Drin, where the Hydro power Plant of Koman, with a capacity of 600 thousand km/h is set. The lake has a surface area of 12 km2; it is 34.5 km long and 50-60 m wide. The lake is surrounded by forested mountains of a height of 1000-1200 m above sea level. This region, in addition to touristic values, preserves the historical values also. The village of Koman is nearby. A cemetery that belongs to 6-8 BC was discovered there; it relates to the culture of early Albanian society.
Lack of organization, whether by the local authority, or travel & tour agencies has led to under use of this area with strong touristic potential, which,even if partially exploited, would directly affect the economic status of the whole area.
What was Komani Lake rated a year ago?
Almost a year ago prestigious “The Huffington Post” referred to the Komani Lake as an Albanian land mark to visit in 2013. In fact, a year later the view of the lake leaves much to be desired.
“The Huffington Post”, an American newspaper, through an article written by Leyla Giray, ranked Albania on the top list of tourism destinations for 2013. Leyla Giray gives a list of 10 reasons as to why one should visit Albania in 2013. They were security, nature, cultural tourism, diversity, weather, prices that according to her were 30 to 40 percent cheaper than in neighboring countries. While among Albanian exotic places to be visited are Butrint, Berat, Gjirokastra, Churches of Voskopoja, Koman Lake, fabulous beauty of the Alps, as well as the Adriatic and Ionian Sea Coast.
Who “brought” waste to Koman?
The question of lake pollution was and continues to be a serious problem. Confidential sources say that the waste came from Prizren, as they were hospital waste inappropriately dumped in the wrong place.
Besides the aesthetic destruction of the lake, the waste is considered as high-risk waste even to creatures living in the lake.
Is waste damaging the hydro power plant?
The answer to that question was, NO. D.A. a staff member at Komani hydro power plant said: “Waste does not cause any problems to the plant performance. Dams are large and there is no chance for waste to block the dam by impeding water flow. We are very dependent on Fierza Hydro power Plant. If water coming from Fierza is abundant, everything is okay for us. Although waste is far from the hydro power station, it is likely to come down here as the biggest part was cleaned by the government “.
Cleaning of the lake
Almost a month ago, for several days, Forces of the Military Command for the Regional Defense of Kukës performed a cleaning operation, but apparently they failed to clean everything.
They left behind part of the waste, which seems to have been forgotten.
The Prefect of the Region said that the idea that a self-cleaning ship would be bought for Fierza Lake was discussed, but the Ministry of Environment has been and is still remaining silent about this initiative since July.
Here’s what the area offers in addition to waste.
A walk in the northern part of Albania is a rest up to delirium.
Komani and Fierza lakes are commonly used for transport of passenger by ferry, but if this trip is taken for tourism, it turns in a memorable outing. You will be left speechless by the wonderful nature, mountain slopes covered with greenery, reflection created by water when going into rocks that were once valley slopes are now transformed to stunning fjords.
A person who goes through this area for the first time will be amazed by it; but to a local resident perhaps the view may be a common sight, as s/he sees it every day.
Komani Lake is located 30 km far from the city of Shkodra. It is formed by the reservoir of Drini River Drin, where the Hydro power Plant of Koman with a capacity of 600 thousand m³/h is set. The lake has a surface area of 12 km2 and it is 34.5 km long and 50-60 m wide.
The lake is surrounded by forested mountains of a height of 1000-1200m above sea level. This region, in addition to touristic values, preserves the historical values also. Nearby is the village of Koman. A cemetery that belongs to 6-8 BC was discovered there; it relates to the culture of early Albanian society.
This area is not enough promoted, neither by local authorities, nor by travel & tour agencies.
The latter are recently trying to contribute to the promotion of Albanian nature, which actually has a lot to explore.
You will be so deeply impressed by the wonderful nature that would wish your trip never ends.