Alked Luku

The investment of 1.5 million dollars intended for Tapiza Bridge reconstruction has not been completed within deadlines initially promised by Minister Balluku and then by Prime Minister Rama.

Mrs. Balluku guaranteed the completion of construction works of the bridge connecting Tirana with Fushë Kruja and North in September 2021, while Prime Minister promised such work would be ready by 2021. Onsite verification showed non-completion of bridge construction works, whereas ARA confirmed to Faktoje the postponement of such project until beginning of March this year.

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Tapiza Bridge, built in the 70’s and serving as a connecting node between Tirana and North, by Decision of the Council of Ministers in 2020, has been subject of a reconstruction process after the earthquake of 26th November 2019. During the inspection of works starting with demolition of old bridge in the beginning of March 2021, the Minister of Infrastructure and Energy Mrs. Belinda Balluku, promised the completion of works on 30 September 2021.

“We have started to work; today we started demolishing the bridge. Our goal is ending the bridge construction by 30 September 2021, so bypass will be temporary. The reconstruction program made available a fund of 1.5 million dollars and works are planned to take 10 months’ – said Balluku in her speech.

In the beginning of February this year, Faktoje conducted an on-site verification stating that works on Tapiza bridge have not been completed yet.  Moreover, the table placed on the construction site shows all the information details containing the project value, designer, implementer, duration of 10-months, while the year is missing after the starting date of works which is 20 September, thus seems to have been deleted not accidentally.

A picture from construction site works of Tapiza Bridge

A picture from construction site works of Tapiza Bridge

Following this verification, Faktoje addressed a request for information to the Albanian Road Authority, as the implementing unit, to find out the reasons of such a delay constructing the bridge, as well as the date when project will be completed.

Detailed description of required information:

Being promised to be opened on 30 September 2021, Tapiza Bridge is yet not accessible.

  1. Please provide us information regarding the following questions:
  2. What are the reasons why Tapiza Bridge is still not opened?
  3. When is Tapiza Bridge expected to be opened?
  4. If the bridge construction project has exceeded deadlines from the first date of completion, does this translate into additional costs and who pays such costs?

Required information/documentation form:

Information can be delivered via email.

In its official response, ARA informed us about the initial project deviation:

The initial project of Tapiza Bridge construction foresaw traffic blocking of Fushë Kruja – Tirana axis and its diversion towards Rinas and Vora roads. Such a project coincided with the construction project of the Customs Node and diversion of traffic from F.Kruja – Tirana axis greatly increased the flow of vehicles coming from Durrës – Tirana axis, thus making works on this node very difficult to be carried out. Moreover, the community area around Tapiza Bridge, such as Kamza and Nikla etc., would have a lot of difficulties in the interactive joint circulation. For this purpose, by Decision of ARA Technical Council, it was decided to build a provisional bypass for vehicles and pedestrians significantly facilitating works both for demolition of the old bridge and for the construction of the new one. That’s the reason why completion of bridge construction is delayed.’

Answer:

Questions:

  1. What are the reasons why Tapiza Bridge is still not opened?

The initial project of Tapiza Bridge construction foresaw traffic blocking of Fushë Kruja – Tirana axis and its diversion towards Rinas and Vora roads. Such a project coincided with the construction project of the Customs Node and diversion of traffic from F.Kruja – Tirana axis greatly increased the flow of vehicles coming from Durrës – Tirana axis, thus making works on this node very difficult to be carried out. Moreover, the community area around Tapiza Bridge, such as Kamza and Nikla etc., would have a lot of difficulties in the interactive joint circulation. For this purpose, by Decision of ARA Technical Council, it was decided to build a provisional bypass for vehicles and pedestrians significantly facilitating works both for demolition of the old bridge and for the construction of the new one. That’s the reason why completion of bridge construction is delayed.

Screenshot of ARA response, February 2022

Albanian Road Authority also claims postponement of Tapiza Bridge construction works until 2 March 2022, i.e. no later than two weeks. ARA did not answer whether there are additional costs occurring from delaying the completion of this project, as well as who pays such a cost.

“Due to bypass approval procedure and increasing volume of works, the deadline of the new bridge construction was extended until 02.03.2022; such a deadline is fully applicable.” – says ARA.

  1. When is Tapiza Bridge expected to be opened?

“Due to bypass approval procedure and increasing volume of works, the deadline of the new bridge construction was extended until 02.03.2022; such a deadline is fully applicable.”

Screenshot of ARA response, February 2022

Following the verification done and the officially provided information, we therefore decided to categorize the statement of Minister of Infrastructure and Energy Mrs. Belinda Balluku indicating the completion of Tapiza Bridge reconstruction by September 2021, as false.

We recall that, four months after Minister Ballluku statement, Prime Minister Rama, in July 2021, through a video posted on social networks, announced that about 50 percent of works had actually been completed and that the entire project of Tapiza Bridge was completed within 2021.