The “Bechtel & Enka” contract, (non) transparent

The “Bechtel & Enka” contract, (non) transparent

IBNA Special Report

Pristina, July 9, 2014/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Elton Tota

Ministry of Infrastructure has presented the contract for the construction of the highway linking Pristina to Skopje, but GAP Institute and “Rise” organization are not satisfied with the way that this contract has been published.

The contract was voluminous, in English and partially accessible by the media and civil society.

It was not permitted to be photographed or to have a copy of it. It was only allowed to be read by those who were interested under the watch of the ministry’s staff.

Director of the GAP Institute for Advanced Studies, Agron Demi, says that this way, the Ministry of Infrastructure orchestrated a disgraceful show, in an attempt to convince the public that the “Arben Xhaferi” highway project is a transparent one.

Lorik Bajrami of “Rise” organization is skeptic about the transparency of the ministry in relation to the 600 million Euro highway linking Pristina to Skopje.

According to him, the viewing of the documents without being able to analyze the details is not transparency.

“The contract is not offered to the public in the form of a file, which they can access at any time. Instead, it’s only offered for viewing and as such, it doesn’t reflect a high level of transparency, because it’s very voluminous and specific and not many people can understand it”, said Bajrami.

In spite of this criticism, the spokesman of the Ministry of Infrastructure, Lah Nitaj considers the publication of this contract as transparency.

“In order to offer transparency, we have published the contract signed between Bechtel Enka and the government of Kosovo in order for those who are interested to see its content, the costs and the time in which the project will be realized”, says Nitaj.

He said that the ministry is expecting citizens to come to this institution and see the contract.

But, according to GAP Institute, this is not enough. In a press statement that it released, GAP says that the law on the access of public documents has been breached.

“Under article 11, section 1 of the law on the access to public documents, when access is allowed, the interested person is entitled to choose if he wants to see the original or a copy or to accept a copy of the document in whichever form or format that he chooses.

In violation to the law in question, the ministry only offered the possibility to view the document, by not allowing the public to obtain a physical copy of it or to photograph the content of the document”, reads the press statement released by GAP Institute.

Meanwhile, minister of Infrastructure, Fehmi Mujota said during the presentation of the contract signed between the government of Kosovo and Bechtel Enka company for the construction of the new highway from Pristina to Han of Elez ,that big projects always spark reactions and for this reason, the contract has been decided to be made public.

“The highway linking Pristina to Han of Elez will have a fixed price, in contrast to the previous contract of the Nation’s Road. What’s important is that we will have a highway meeting the highest international standards.

It’s a very good thing for Kosovo that the contract has been signed at this moment. It’s a very positive political message that the state of Kosovo functions, that there are investments, constructions, development and based on this, we’ve had very positive feedback from within and from abroad”, said Mujota. /ibna/