Today the Stockholm community council in Sweden announced that the French company Veolia who has been the current operator at the Subway’s in Stockholm County for 10 years lost the contract to the MTR-cooperation. The contracts for the coming 8 years is worth 3,5 Billion EURO and has been the biggest ongoing public contract procurement process in Europe.
Although the board for county’s public transportation ensured the decision was based on commercial factors the debate about Veolias involvement in a controversial tramway project in Jerusalem (Jerusalem light railway) has been intense in Swedish media.
The tramway connecting the Israeli west Jerusalem with illegal Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian territory has triggered discussions about Veolia’s ethical policy. Public protests against Veolia has brought the attention to the dilemma of operating public services when you at he same time are involved in politically controversial activities.
As late as the day before the decision the community council received lists with thousands of signatories from people demanding the county council to choose an operator who should not be associated with violations of international humanitarian law.
– This is clearly another sign of the importance for commercial actors not to have their brand associated to unethical behaviour, in the case of illegal settlements on occupied palestinian territory we can already see a trend of international companies who are moving out their operations from settlements, says Joakim Wohlfeil, at the Swedish development organization Diakonia.