In mid December of last year, the level of pollution in the air had increased. The citizens of Prishtina reacted to this increase by protesting and demanding that local institutions and the government take measures to improve air quality.

The air monitoring devices set up by the American Embassy in Prishtina showed that in January 2017, the level of air pollution was higher from 8:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m.

The Ministry of Infrastructure believes that the pollution is caused only by cars that use diesel and not the ones that use petrol. However, officials from the Media Relations Office in the Municipality of Prishtina claim that old cars are the main cause of pollution in the capital.

“There is a big number of these cars that circulate in traffic, as well as use fuel for old cars. The fuel used for these cars is not checked at all,” say the municipality officials.

On the other side, the Ministry of Infrastructure claims that imported cars don’t pose a problem, since out of 23,523 cars, only 223 are rated as EURO 3, whereas 23,300 are rated as EURO 6, which has the lowest emissions.

They also emphasize that gas levels of all imported cars is measured, and if they don’t meet requirements, they are not allowed to register.

According to Nezakete Hakaj, director of the Department of Environmental Protection in the Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning, there are some factors that contribute to pollution.

All of this has come from industry’s gas emissions, transport and the additional gas emission from the heating of families and small businesses during this season,” says Hakaj and adds that the harsh weather conditions helped spread the pollution.

Hakaj explained that three years ago, the Assembly of Kosovo approved the Strategy for Air Quality for 2013-2020. While this year, they designed the Plan of Measures for the Improvement of Air Quality and the Environment Condition in Kosovo. This plan specifies short-term, medium-term and long-term measures to improve air quality. Among others, it mentions old cars, fuel quality and infrastructure as problems.

Officials from the Municipality of Prishtina also talked about the measures they took to improve air quality. According to them, from 2015 they planted over 3,000 trees and created public parks.

The municipality also engaged in fixing the public transport, replacing old buses with new ones, and controlling the fuel used for heating in different public institutions, as well as check the central heating network from “Termokos” all around the city.

One of the plans is to create bicycle paths as well as a plan to manage garbage, which also pollutes air.

Adeline Gjergji