Prime minister Edi Rama has declared the start of an ambitious plan of investments for the Albanian capital
IBNA Special Report
Tirana, September 29, 2014/ Independent Balkan News Agency
By Edison Kurani
Municipality of Tirana has complained in Ljubjana, Slovenia for what it considered to be an intentional blockade caused by the government for major projects relating to the Albanian capital. Vice mayor of Tirana, Nevila Xhindi used the conference “Future of Cities Award 2014” to do this. Invited in this conference were mayors and vice mayors of different European countries.
“Albanian government is a unique case in blocking the application of the municipality projects”, said Xhindi while presenting the main strategic projects in Tirana.
She also talked about the northern boulevard in Tirana, the project of the river, of the public transport terminal, the introduction of the railway system for trams, new lighting and the project for energy efficiency.
Mrs. Xhindi said that the projects of the municipality contribute for a modern and European Tirana, as part of the Europe 2020 strategy, in promoting sustainable and comprehensive growth.
“These projects contribute in the creation of new jobs, in the development of urban area, the urban, economic, technological and social progress of Tirana”, said Mrs. Xhindi.
She said that difficulties are being encountered in implementing the projects, because according to her, “the central government is blocking the development of the city”.
The conference was held in the form of a roundtable, where the discussion was focused on identifying, encouraging and appraising new projects in the domain of the development of cities, such as transport, accommodation, energy and it was presided by a moderator who presented every representative with their projects.
Basha and Rama retort in distance
Irony of the destiny or scary coincidence, nevertheless, it happened. Edi Rama was the mayor of Tirana for 11 years and his best period was when the left was in government. From 2005 until 2001, Rama was also leader of the Socialist Party and opposition.
Intensity of work during those years dropped and discontent among the citizens of the capital rose. At the same time, the right wing in majority constantly attacked Rama. The latter incessantly accused the government for blocking projects.
Almost the same thing is also happening today, but now it’s the leader of the right wing in opposition the one who is complaining for his former counterpart. Leader of opposition and mayor of Tirana, Lulzim Basha, considers these “blockades” as Rama’s war against the municipality. “In every public work in Tirana, Edi Rama has introduced a blockade. He’s doing what no other prime minister has done, what Neither Nano, nor Berisha, nor Meksi have done. Rama has blocked in an unprecedented way every public work in Tirana”, says Basha.
Rama doesn’t comment a lot on this accusation, but manifests irony: “The worthless mayor that Tirana has had speaks of imaginary blockades, while being totally aware and allowing damages that cannot be fathomed”. Apart from this, Rama says that “municipality has ceased to exist” and that “Basha has abandoned Tirana”.
What is happening with projects
Works for the expansion of the boulevard have been funded by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development. The amount allocated is 26 million Euros. Works started in September 2013, but they are moving slowly, not to say that they have stopped.
The municipality says that the main cause for this is the blockade of funds allocated in the city’s budget for expropriations.
Even the terminal for urban and inter-urban transport has come to a halt. Once again, the majority controlled by the opposition, accuses the majority for intentional blockade.
IBNA learned from the Municipality Council controlled by the left, that the issue of the terminal has come to a halt due to conflicts of ownership.
Meanwhile, municipality says that the city of Tirana has a clear ownership on this property and that the claim of the left is groundless.
In these circumstances, the citizens are those who suffer the consequences. Many of them, asked by IBNA, complain that political conflicts have also been spread in the local government and this has caused the delay of projects which improve the quality of their life.
“It’s a shame that the feasibility study and the tender of concession for the terminal of public transport in Tirana has been completed and work has come to a halt”, says an expert of the domain who claims that he has a good knowledge of the work done so far. “Even worse, Tirana still doesn’t have a terminal where buses can stay. Everything is in chaos, buses stop wherever they can and they don’t have a fixed station. All of this makes citizens pay for miserable services and standards which are not at all European”.
Government intervenes with investments in municipalities
A year after its return in power, the Socialist Party is paying attention to the party’s base. The prime minister allocated over 21 million USD for the reconstruction of all main roads and facades in the city of Elbasan. Around 12 million USD were allocated for the construction of Elbasan Arena, a national stadium which is built over the existing one. Alongside investments in Elbasan, a similar project also started in Kavaja, a former stronghold of democrats and in Lushnja. Rama has warned for more investments in Vlora, Durrec, Korca, etc.
Meanwhile, the prime minister said in the past few days that “you will soon see investments in Tirana too”, without offering other details.
This last promise made by Rama is not being trumpeted in the media, in particular the pro government media. Some people believe that intervention with investments in Tirana, a year before the local elections, can damage the majority, as many voters may consider this as an investment of the municipality which is led by the opposition and not a funding allocated by the central government. Nevertheless, we must wait and see if a similar plan to the cities above will also start in Tirana before the end of the year. /ibna/