Concessions to be granted for state roads in Albania. Is it too soon?

Concessions to be granted for state roads in Albania. Is it too soon?

A concession will be granted for the Nation’s Road and five euros will be charged for a vehicle to use it. There is also a plan to tax other national roads. But are they really highways?

Tirana, 15 June 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Edison Kurani

What is known as the Nation’s Road, should really be the highway linking Tirana to Morina. But this was never realized although the promises were endless and the amount of money that taxpayers had to pay was high.

The road was reduced to a piece of highway patched all along the segment from the capital to the border with Kosovo.

Today, that part which is considered as a highway, from Milot to Morina, is being given to a concessionary company. Based on the information received so far, a car must pay no less than five euros to pass this motorway.

If we take a look in neighboring countries, such as Greece, Montenegro, Italy, FYROM, etc, this is the highest value asked for toll roads.

The plan for the construction of the so called Nation’s Road, started on paper when the current socialist MP, Pandeli Majko was prime minister. At that time, every Albanian was owned a vehicle, was taxed nearly 7 thousand ALL or 52 euros. This was called “Majko” tax or the tax for the Nation’s Road and continued to be charged for several years. The road never started to be built at that time.

When the right wing government came in power, it promised the construction of this road that links Albania to Kosovo.

The works started, but never completely. It was said that a highway that was going to start in Tirana and end in Morina was going to be built, but the construction focused in Milot.

The other parts have different qualities. Thus, from Tirana to Durres there’s a dual carriage way, furthermore there’s a motorway which runs several kilometers and then a national segment which leads to the part from Milot to Morina, which is also not a highway in all of its 110 km long length.

Although the highway was never completed, every vehicle must now pay 5 euros to use it. Meanwhile, lorries and large vehicles must pay even more.

Minister of Transport and Infrastructure, Edmond Haxhinasto says that the concessionary company must make further investments in the road linking Milot to Morina, which will be a toll road.

“We have an operator which will make an important investment for the New Bridge in Kukes, for another geometry of the connection of the Bridge with the road that leads to Morina, bearing in mind the fact that today, the road doesn’t meet any technical standards”.

The minister says that the concessionary company will also intervene in the road escarpments, which see continuous landslides.

The investment is expected to amount to 50 million euros.

Haxhinasto also offers other figures and details: “The annual cost for the maintenance of the road is 4,5 million euros a year and all of this will be paid by charging a road toll, as it normally happens in Europe”.

The minister sees this concessionary agreement as “a suitable way to reduce pressure on the state budget for the completion of this work and the use of taxpayers’ money for other things”, adding that “this is the scope of this concessionary agreement, to maintain and to invest in the road linking Milot to Morina”.

Stopping on the toll charge, the minister says that the expected 5 euros will not be paid by the area’s residents.

Meanwhile, the government is also planning to grant concessions for other roads. Haxhinasto says that a study has been completed with international consultancy about the possibility to tax different road segments of Albania. This study is being examined by Haxhinasto’s ministry. “If we all agree, then we can certainly announce public tenders for companies that could manage different segments, with the aim not being to collect as much money as possible, but to offer a better quality of roads in the country and maintain them with the necessary standards”.

Many people think that it is too soon to grant concessions on national roads and to charge for their use in Albania.

First of all, these roads have started to be built in the recent years and none of them has been completed.

Secondly, the roads’ standards are far from the EU standards and their state is miserable. In the recent months there has been an effort to install road signs in several road segments.

What’s more, world experience has shown that a toll fee is paid on highways. In Albania, the majority of roads that have been built are on the level of dual carriage ways, they do not meet the criteria of being a highway and none of them have the obligatory emergency lanes. /