The application of toll charges for motor vehicles on national roads in Albania is a process which has just started in the country.
The road in which the charges will apply is known as the Nation’s road, a road segment linking Albania to Kosovo.
Several years ago, when the country was governed by democrats, who are in opposition today, a tunnel was built near the border between the two countries, allowing the crossing of vehicles on both senses.
In a part of the road linking Tirana to Morina, the road consists of two lanes northbound and two lanes southbound.
However, more than half of this road doesn’t meet standards.
Socialists, who are in power today, granted the maintenance of the road to a private company.
The private company rushed to install toll collection points in an area of this road and now, every car is asked to pay 10 euros for a return trip for cars and up to five times more for heavy vehicles (46 euros).
The start of this process has caused a lot of discontent.
While making an observation on this road segment on Sunday, IBNA noticed that several cars were paying the new tax. Others were refusing to pay it by voicing their anger for the new charge.
A company official said that the process of the payment is, nonetheless, being tested and the payment will be mandatory in a matter of weeks.
Meanwhile, discontent among citizens for this tax is growing.
Some say that they will avoid as much as possible crossings in this road, although this is the only route to Kosovo from Albania.
“Nonetheless, there are other solutions. I can go through Skopje. At least, there, they only charge one euro”, says a road user who often travels to Kosovo to visit relatives.
The Albanian government seems to have anticipated the losses that are expected to happen as a result of this disgruntlement. The government has made sure that the private company which was given a concessionary deal on the road for a period of 30 years, to be subsidized by the state each year.
The contract with Catalyst Viva Das General Contracting, LLC–Salillari sh.p.k–Bee Tech–Violiap Ateve–Kastrati sh.a consortium, states that this concession is expected to cost over 300 million euros in the next 30 years to Albanian taxpayers.
Under the tender document, the concessionary company promises to invest for the completion of several road segments and its maintenance in exchange of an annual payment of 5 million euros for 13 years. Also, the flux of 4200 vehicles a day is expected to generate for the concessionary company 6 million euros a year, while growing traffic in the decades to come is expected to generate extra revenues for the company.
The concessionary contract was initially granted to another consortium, but the Commission for Public Procurement decided to abolish the decision for the winner of the tender and granted the deal to the current consortium.
The start of the application of the road tax prompted strong reactions by the opposition. Almost all of its senior officials considered this charge as unacceptable, abusive, theft from the government led by Edi Rama’s Socialist Party and bargaining with the concessionary companies at the detriment of Albanian citizens.
But, this criticism sounds absurd, because the project that is being implemented by the current government was drafted by the right wing government which left power five years ago. /balkaneu.com/