Dismissal of Médiouna in an international court

Dismissal of Médiouna in an international court

Ecomed intends to use an international arbitral tribunal to settle its dispute with the city of Casablanca.

This is certainly what Ahmed Hamidi, CEO of Ecomed, officially confirmed in an interview with Today Morocco. Since July 23, 2018, when his teams were expelled manu militari by the services of the municipal council of the Médiouna landfill, the company Ecomed entered a showdown that is taking place today in the judicial phase. The company that has been operating the landfill site since November 2008 in the form of delegated management has indeed been informed by the Board of the termination of the contract. That decision naturally led to a legal battle that never ceases to rebel.

In order to justify its decision, the Council of the City of Casablanca called for the default of the delegated company to its contractual obligations. Two aspects were criticized in particular. The first concerns the treatment of leachate, the highly toxic and hazardous liquid produced by the accumulation of waste. The city of Casablanca, among others, blames that it has not invested enough in the system of sealing, collection and disposal of leachate. This resulted in leakage accidents, often visible to the naked eye, and especially infiltrations that affect the groundwater level of the region. In all of this, Ecomed expresses its arguments and especially the defense elements that demonstrate the full and exclusive responsibility of the Board. According to the CEO of Ecomed: "When the delegated management contract was signed in November 2008, it was a matter of operating the Médiouna landfill for a transitional period of only two years, after which it had to be closed and opened: a new site". As a result, the Ecomed leachate treatment system initially had a size of only two years, corresponding to a height of 15 meters from the dome formed by the accumulation of waste. But "the change of location did not take place and we found, ten years later, with a waste height of more than 45 meters, which of course makes the leachate treatment system inefficient," explains the CEO of Ecomed.

The second point on which the municipal council based its decision to terminate: the failure by Ecomed of the sorting center as provided for in the contract. Here, too, Ecomed's management offers its defenses by emphasizing the terms of the delegated management contract signed in November 2008. The introduction of a sorting system in the Médiouna waste disposal facility was inevitable. a big problem: the rag pickers. And in November 2008, at the time of the arrival of Ecomed, there were no less than 2000 rubbers to work in total anarchy on the site. At the time of signing the contract, the CEO of Ecomed said, "the city council has committed itself to reducing the number of rag pickers to just 150 and this was duly recorded in the agreement." For example, Article 9 of the delegated management contract states explicitly: "The obligation for the city to evacuate the residents of the landfill, in particular the 2000 rag pickers, by limiting their number to 150, and the 20,000 head of cattle". Ten years later it is no secret that none of this has been done. But instead of being unequal, the city council, in addition to the unilateral termination of the contract, today demands an amount of 50 million DH from the former deputy to the former deputy who would have received compensation on the sorting operations he never did. Which officials of Ecomed also make their own arguments. "In order to do the sorting according to the contract, the city council first had to evacuate the rubbish dump and the cattle and then guarantee the safety of the site, which has never been done so far", he recalls. the CEO of the company. In addition, he notes: "the last judgment rendered by the Casablanca Regional Court of Accounts in July 2018 clearly meant that the city council was solely responsible for the non-realization of the sorting system".

On the other hand, Ecomed, for its part, claims the astronomical sum of 750 million DH to the City Council. The CEO of the company does indeed provide documents and figures that support the city since November 2017 to refuse to pay the Ecomed amounts due for the treatment of waste and which amount to 260 million DH. To this figure the compensation and interest for termination of the contract have been added to make a total of 750 MDH. And of course, Ecomed's management seems determined to use every means and means to defend itself. The attempts of amicable solutions have not yielded anything and after the forced evacuation of the discharge, the management of the company decided, next to the judicial system, to bring the dispute to a higher level. In view of the stalemate with the Casablanca City Council, the officials of Ecomed believe that it is now a national dispute "that must be resolved with the Moroccan state and not with the elected representatives of the city". That is why Ecomed sent a letter last June to the head of the government and various ministers involved. It is not a simple correspondence but a letter of intent in which Ecomed officially informs the Moroccan government that it intends to ask an international court to settle the dispute. Indeed, the CEO of the company explains that "the case will be brought before an international arbitral tribunal". But that will not happen immediately. The text of the Free Trade Agreement between Morocco and the United States, in its chapter on investment protection, effectively stipulates that investors on both sides can rely on international arbitration tribunals in case of dispute. And this provision that the account of the company Ecomed is activated as long as it is itself a subsidiary of two American companies, in this case Edgeboro and GESI.

The text of the free trade agreement also provides that when one of the two states receives a letter of intent, such as that of Ecomed, it must reply within a maximum period of 90 days. In other words, if the government does not respond to the letter that Ecomed received before 15 September, the latter will present the case to an international arbitral tribunal. Moreover, the officials of Ecomed say, all the provisions have already been taken in this case. The American law firm Hogan Lovells is officially mandated to stand at the helm. The dirty linen from the management of Casablanca is washed in public and internationally …

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