Gov’t starts contract negotiations on first toll road

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times December 9, 2016 11:32

Gov’t starts contract negotiations on first toll road

TIRANA, Dec. 8 – The Albanian government says it has started contract negotiations with a United Arab Emirates-Albanian consortium over a 30-year concession to upgrade and manage a 114-km highway linking Albania to Kosovo that would make it the country’s first toll road.

The contract negotiations come after the controversial cancellation of an initial winning bid by a Turkish-led consortium and amid strong opposition by the local community and businesses who fear the planned Euro 5 tolls will isolate northern Albania and reduce the number of tourists coming from Kosovo.

“We are concluding the concession contract. The Highway of Nation is a strategic asset. The concession envisages the completion of the whole road including its maintenance,” said Transport Minister Sokol Dervishaj, speaking at the parliamentary economy committee this week.

However, the tolling is unlikely to continue in 2017 even for political reasons as the country will be heading to general election in June 2017.

Last September, the Public Procurement Commission ruled the transport ministry’s bid evaluation commission must invalidate the bid by a Turkish consortium led by Vendeka Bilgi Teknolojileri Ltd and announce a United Arab Emirates-consortium led by Catalyst Viva Das General Contracting LLC which also included several Albanian partners as winner.

The expected introduction of €5 tolls for the Albania-Kosovo highway sparked reactions by the opposition Democratic Party and the local business community who fear increased costs will have a negative impact on Albania-Kosovo trade exchanges and tourists arrivals. Kosovo is the country’s second largest trading partner for exports while tourist arrivals from the neighboring ethnic Albanian country account for about half of foreign visitors in Albania’s ‘patriotic’-dominated tourism.

A local business community in the northeastern region of Kukes, one of the country’s poorest areas close to the Kosovo border, said local businesses would lose €1.4 million a year from the toll.

Opposition Democratic Party leader Lulzim Basha recently said in a recent visit to Kukes, northeastern Albania, the opposition would not allow a tax that “prevents free travel between Kukes and Tirana and Prishtina and Tirana.

 

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times December 9, 2016 11:32