YRE Article 11–14 years old: 2nd Place

FAIRY ALKIMA IS WAITING FOR THE GOLDEN SHIP (Montenegro)

Kotor is a town of legends. Every stone is a story, every wall a history, every fortress a tradition. The beauty of this town is so unique that it has been making people simply believe that its foundation must have been influenced by divine forces. They say that the most beautiful myth is the one about the fairy Alkima who showed up one night and advised our ancestor to build the town by the sea. So they did. People built their town and every year after the fairy Alkima has been showing herself above it. She takes a look from high rocks to see the way her town lives and then she flies away…

The legends remain, but the reality in the Municipality of Kotor is different.

Today, this area, due to its extraordinary natural and cultural values is a UNESCO heritage site. The question is whether we are aware of the meaning or not. Of course not. Environmental protection is now topicality widely discussed, but poorly worked upon.

The disposal of solid municipal waste is a huge problem to entire Montenegrin coastal area. Illegal garbage dumps are a huge problem for Kotor Municipality. The waste has been disposed on natural soil near inhabited areas and close to the roads. According to Report by the Secretariat for Spatial Planning and Construction, garbage dumps are unprotected, uncontrolled, not meeting sanitary and environmental requirements and have become a significant environmental and health issue.

According to the Civil Police data, we have 11 large landfills in the Municipality of Kotor, the area of which exceeds 1,000 m2.

Illegal dumps arise mostly during the construction season. Flats and apartments are renovated, and most of the construction waste ends by the roads, because for legal disposal transporters are required to obtain permits from the authorities. As Mr Zoran Vučinović, the Head of the Kotor’s Civil Police, told us, illegal disposal is done mostly at nights, and the fines are very strict and range from 500 to several hundred euros. The Civil Police has sent the citizens a public call to cooperate and report such cases.

We should mention the dumps on Vrmac and Lovanja where currently we have over 6,000 car tyres that have been unloaded there. There are no specific locations for the disposal of waste tyres. There is a tyre disposal place in Podgorica, but a temporary one, thus the Ministry of Sustainable Development instructed the Public Utility Company of Kotor to keep the tyres where they are.

Due to the large number of tourists, maintaining cleanliness during the summer season have become a great issue. The inhabitants and owners of hospitality facilities in the old town generally do not comply with the Municipality’s Decision on garbage disposal and dispose their waste at places not foreseen and at time not allowed for this kind of activity. Those are places near the public toilet, even in front of the Civil Police office, St. Paul’s church or the City Hall. The city walls are also very affected by irresponsible tourists. The workers are forced to collect and take away garbage from certain places even several times a day, and by the end of the day we have a new dump at the same place, as we were told by Mr. Mladen Lučić, the director of the Kotor’s Utility Company.

Once being the landfill for the municipalities of Kotor and Tivat, Lovanja today is a “black spot” of Kotor Bay. There is a recycling centre of the Kotor Utility Company. However, the biggest problem is the lack of a proper landfill and driving away the garbage from Kotor Municipality to the sanitary landfill “Možura”, which is costly, considering the fact that driving away one ton of garbage is 35 euros. If we take into account that nearly 12,000 tons of garbage are driven away to this landfill yearly, then there must be some radical actions taken about it, as said by Mr. Lučić. At the land of the Utility Company in Kavač there is a composting plant, the only one in Montenegro, a project by the European Union for four municipalities: Kotor, Tivat, Herceg Novi and Budva. Mr. Lučić also told us that, for now, the processed green waste is used only for the area of Kotor Municipality and maintenance of green areas. The plan is to expand this station, in order to start the sales of the produced humus, for which there is interest.

In addition to being the disgrace of the town, illegal dumps are harmful to people’s health and to the environment in general. There is often a terrible smell spreading from these areas, spontaneous combustions, animals disperse the litter, and this all additionally affects the environment.

What needs to be done urgently is to recover the illegal dumps and put physical barriers at certain places in order to prevent recreation of the dumps, as well as a more intense control over these places. The solution is to allocate a proper, new landfill for the municipalities of Kotor, Tivat and Budva. Furthermore, it is necessary to work on raising the environmental awareness of the citizens through advertising and seminars, and the civil police should be strict in implementing fines with irresponsible citizens.

We remain with the question whether and when Kotor will “wash” and show its real face, or we will leave it to UNESCO to try to defend its protected area from ourselves.

And the legend, at its end, says that, through the Fairy Door, at a certain time of night, you can see the moon sickle, golden and bright, like a sailing ship in the night sky. Then, the chosen people of Kotor, the fairies’ favourites, can see Alkima just before the dawn, sitting on the Fairy Door and waiting for the golden ship so she could sail on it through the Boka Bay waters and further on to the distant world.

We wonder if the Fairy is ashamed of us….

Written by students from Montenegro.

Sharing the winning entries of the Int. Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE) Competition and the Litter Less Campaign (LLC) Competition. See www.yre.global