Ten euros for a part of a national road? Strong debates in Albania about the Nation’s Road concession

Ten euros for a part of a national road? Strong debates in Albania about the Nation’s Road concession

Tirana, 28 July 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Edison Kurani

A part of the four lane highway of what is known as the Nation’s Road, will soon become a toll road.

The concession of the highway that links Albania to Pristina is given to a Turkish company.

Cars will pay a toll fee of 5,2 euros for the highway segment linking Milot to Morina, part of the national road segment from Tirana to Kukes.

This means that if a car makes a return trip in this road where tolls will apply, then it will pay 10,4 euros or 10% minimum salary in Albania.

The opposition contested this and said yesterday (27.07) that it “will void this suspicious concession and this tax which is not affordable for the life of Albanians.”

Thus, is seems that what many Albanians feared, will now happen. The Albanian government warns that cars that will cross the highway segment from Milot to Morina, part of the national road segment from Tirana to Kukes, will pay 5,3 euros. Such figure is several times higher than what is applied in several other countries, including neighboring countries, not taking into account the living standards for Albanian citizens, which are much lower.

The concession agreement for the construction, operation and maintenance of the highway from Milot to Morina is a pilot project, the first one of this kind in Albania.

Several tenders were carried out, but they all failed. This time the tender was won by a Turkish company.

Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure explains the figures: “The toll fee for the use of the road will be 4,16 excluding VAT or 3,63 euro cent per kilometer, given that the road is 114,5 kilometers long”. The ministry says that the price was established based on the recommendation of IFC, part of the World Bank, which plays the role of the consultant.

Turkish company “VendekaBilgi” promises an initial capital investment of 50,6 million euros and a continuous investment for maintenance and operation of the road amounting to 320,6 million euros.

10,4 euro tax is considered high

This toll fee which for the living standards of Albanian people is considered very high and unaffordable, is against a strategy of road concessions that the government claimed that it was putting in place.

Minister of Transport, Edmond Haxhinasto declared a few months back that this strategy would be followed strictly and that this would be the basis on which the price would be decided.

According to this strategy’s chart, the fee for the Nation’s Road would vary from 0,5 to 3,5 cent per kilometer. For the 114 km from Milot to Morina, toll fee for cars should have been from 0,57 to 3,99 euros for the entire length of the road. In case the toll fee would have been decided to be applied in Rreshen, then the total would not have gone over 2,8 euros for the entire length of the road.

But, in the recent hours, the ministry announced that the toll fee would be 5 euros in the main road segment of the country, where over 8 million cars cross each year.

Democrat MP, JoridaTabaku, who talked to IBNA, considers this fee a very high one for Albanians who must pay 10 euros every time they have to travel in the Nation’s Road.

Tabaku says that the government gave the concession to the Turkish company by allowing it to apply a price of 10,4 euros for a return journey, or 33% more than the price suggested by experts, adding that an average of 11 thousand to 15 thousand vehicles move on each side of the road every day.

Tabaku suggests that the decision should not enter in force, without analyzing several factors. Therefore, the known expert suggests a full cost and profit analysis as to how much we lose and how much we gain, the economic impact and that on tourism, especially in circumstances when this year, tourists from Kosovo dominate in the Albanian seaside. /balkaneu.com/