3 years after the emergency demolition of the National Theatre and a series of expired deadlines for the new project, the works for this work have not yet started. Mayor Veliaj, on December 21, 2022, ceremonially announced the start of works for the opening of the foundations for the new theatre. But on-site verification in February 2023 showed that the site where the foundations were to be opened there are no machinery or workers, and the construction site resembles a private car park.
Rovena Kallço, student
On December 21, 2022, the mayor of Tirana, Erion Veliaj, announced to the artists, the start of work on the new National Theatre.
“We are ready to open the foundations of the new National Theatre. Today on December 21, which is actually the day of the longest night of the year, starting from tomorrow when the day takes over the night…” – said Veliaj .
Mayor Veliaj made the statement in front of a group of artists, in the presence of Prime Minister Edi Rama, Minister of Culture Elva Margariti and Danish architect Bjarke Ingels. The ceremony took place right where the old theatre was, and next to an excavator that seemed to be ready to start work.
A month after this statement, we went to the field to see at what stage the work was on opening the foundations of the New Theatre. In the surrounded area, we did not see any working machinery, not even the excavator that appeared on the day of Veliaj’s declaration.
In their place were several parked vehicles, and the square looked more like a parking lot than a construction site.
Also, the works board, where information about the start and end dates of the works must be given, was partially covered and it was impossible to see this information, although according to the law, the board should be placed in a visible place.
Work schedule for the National Theatre, February 1, 2023
There were no workers inside the construction site and there was no sign that work was being done there.
“They come and go very often. As far as I know and what they told me, they are now dealing with the inspection of the land, they are taking samples.” – we were informed by persons in charge of guarding the object.
We addressed a request for information to the Municipality of Tirana, requesting data regarding the works, how much is the cost for the construction of the theatre and when it is expected to be operational.
The Municipality of Tirana responded by informing us that the request sent has been processed by the relevant structures, but until the day of publication of this article we have not yet received a response from these structures.
The project for the construction of the National Theatre envisages the construction of a building on an area of about 8,000 m2 above ground and 5,000 m2 underground on 3 levels. According to the contract signature form published on the Public Procurement Agency website by the Municipality of Tirana, the company AGI-Kons, which is the winner of the competition, will receive about 19 million euros. The amount includes the total contract where the limit fund of 1.8 billion ALL has been added and the value added tax has been added, reaching 2.2 billion ALL. The National Council of the Territory approved the permission for the theatre in the summer of last year, as its total cost is calculated at 30 million ALL. The New National Theatre is expected to be completed in 2025, according to Erion Veliaj’s statement.
Based on the verification carried out and the information gathered, we decided to categorize the statement of the mayor Erion Veliaj, that the works for the opening of the foundations on December 21, 2022, as untrue.