HomePromisesUnkeptShëngjin-Velipojë Road: A Broken Promise for 5 Consecutive Years

Shëngjin-Velipojë Road: A Broken Promise for 5 Consecutive Years

A March 10, 2024 post on the Prime Minister’s profile proclaimed the impending completion of the Shëngjin-Velipojë road construction. Faktoje’s investigation reveals that the promise has remained unfulfilled for 5 years since it was made, as the road has yet to be completed. Delve into a retrospective of this broken promise for the project, valued at 3.8 billion ALL, aimed at reducing the distance between the two towns by 15 kilometers.

Emi Kalaja

The investment in Shëngjin-Velipojë road for over 5 years has turned into a ‘source of conflict’ between the government – the Municipality of Shkodra, and the opposition, as well as a barrier to progress. The outcome? Shëngjin-Velipojë road remains unfinished.

The 2018 Promise

In May 2018, Prime Minister Edi Rama pledged to connect Shëngjin and Velipoja with a new road (with construction reported to be finished by autumn 2018). This promise was accompanied by the release of a detailed video outlining the road’s features.

Rama: The new Shëngjin-Velipoja road will be completed by September, just a half-hour to Montenegro



According to the Albanian Development Fund (ADF) during that period, the government’s strategic investment aimed to shorten the connecting road to less than 15 kilometers.

‘Today, to traverse the road from Shëngjin to Velipoja, one needs to cover 66 kilometers in 1 hour and 20 minutes, passing through 4 road axes. With the investment of 3.8 billion ALL, the distance is shortened to just 14.8 kilometers in 19 minutes.

Starting from the Port of Shëngjin, the road ascends towards the hillside at an altitude of 100-200 meters above sea level, preserving the pristine beaches of Shëngjin, Rana e Hedhun, and other beaches in the area. This road offers stunning panoramic views. It then connects seamlessly to Velipoja’s infrastructure’ described ADF.

Recycling the Promise in July 2022

Shëngjin-Velipojë-Ulqin road project was brought up again in July 2022, four years after the initial commitment.

“Since October 2021, thanks to an investment from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Albanian Development Fund, work has been ongoing for the construction of the Shëngjin-Velipojë road. This new road segment will administratively include the Municipalities of Shkodra and Lezha. It will run parallel to the coastline between the two inhabited centers, offering a unique view of the Albanian coastline and serving as a vital link between them, as well as continuing on to Ulcinj. Progress is being made on the mountainside, particularly in the final 500 meters where the connection between these tourist areas is being established,’ announced Rama.

However, construction was stopped, and certain segments of the road began to crumble, posing a risk to residents. Luc Toli, Head of Rrjoll village, states that although the construction company has been notified, no resolution has been reached thus far.

Shëngjin-Velipojë Road Construction Site

May 2023

In the lead-up to the May 2023 local elections, Prime Minister Edi Rama discussed the Shëngjin-Velipojë road on ‘Real Story’, attributing its nearly year-long delay to document preparation. This explanation was dismissed by Bardh Spahia, the then-mayor from the Democratic Party, who claimed that Shkodra Municipality had expeditiously completed all necessary land documentation.

Through a request for information in February 2024, we reached out to the Municipality of Shkodra to inquire about the current status of procedures related to the progress of Shëngjin-Velipojë road works.

The Municipality of Shkodra confirmed to Faktoje that it had fulfilled its functional obligations for: public expropriations, approval of the construction permit for Infrastructure ‘Construction of the Shëngjin-Velipojë road, Lot 1, Phase I,’ and informing citizens about the expropriation procedures affected by the road construction.

ADF: Completion of works by September 2024

Faktoje reached out through an official request to the Albanian Development Fund (ADF), the implementing body of the project, to inquire about the progress and anticipated completion of works.

In their response to Faktoje, ADF confirmed that the target completion date for the project is September 2024. However, they cited significant delays in the expropriation process as a key challenge.

“The project is currently in the implementation phase and is progressing satisfactorily. However, delays have been experienced due to issues related to the clearance of the construction site, stemming from social challenges with affected residents, as well as delays in the expropriation process, for which responsibility lies with the Local Government Units. Additionally, restrictions on heavy vehicle traffic in tourist areas with increased congestion have resulted in work suspensions during the summer season, further impacting project timelines.

Regarding the implementation works scheduled for completion by September 2024, we can inform that efforts are underway to finalize the opening of the route along its entire length. Work is also ongoing on various infrastructure components, including the construction of walls, reinforced concrete structures, manholes, and the placement of gravel and crushed stone to complete the road surface’.

Insights from Shëngjin-Velipojë Axis, March 2024

Local residents of Rrjoll village, where the project is taking place, have expressed dissatisfaction with the expropriation process. Prek Molla, a resident, has voiced concerns over what he perceives as a lack of transparency in the project implementation and expropriation procedures, which directly affect him.

“The expropriation documentation includes references to Law 7501, despite the fact that we are long-standing landowners with no connection to that law. Our land consists of forests, whereas the law specifically pertains to arable lands seized during the communist regime,” explains Prek Molla. He further adds that this issue has now been brought to the attention of SPAK (Special Anti-Corruption Prosecution).

Experts on the Shëngjin-Velipojë Road

Fatlum Nurja, an expert in local governance, sees the Shëngjin-Velipojë road project, along with plans for a connecting bridge to Ulcinj, as a rivitalization for Velipoja, transforming it into a bustling 12-month tourist destination, potentially diminishing Shkodra’s status as the primary northern city.

“This project elevates Velipojë’s stature but may have repercussions for Shkodra. Similar to the impact of investments in the National Road. Travelers used to return to Shkodër after passing through Bushat to visit Pukë and Kukës. The scenario will be similar in Velipojë, where visitors won’t circle back to Shkodër but will go directly from Lezhë to Velipojë. Additionally, with the anticipated investment in the bridge linking Velipojë to Montenegro, they will head straight to Ulcinj without the need to pass through Shkodra. Velipoja will become more frequented, evolving into a bustling town, while Shkodra will find itself positioned between two axes with high tourist activity, such as Kosovo and Montenegro,” said expert Nurja to Faktoje.

On the other hand, Ervis Krymi, an environmental expert, highlights the potential benefits of the project.

“The road linking Shëngjin with Velipoja is situated in the northwest of the city of Lezhë and the port of Shëngjin. With its convergence of the sea, lagoon, plains, and mountains, the area holds significant potential for maritime and mountain tourism, fishing, diverse agricultural activities, and animal husbandry.

The area’s potential is also closely linked to its geographic location. The proximity to Montenegro, the economic center of Shkodra-Lezha, the Shëngjin port, and Velipoja beach prioritize this area for future tourism development in the region.

This road will invigorate the tourism sector, fostering economic growth and enhancing the local residents’ quality of life. Moreover, it will promote tourism in rural areas and support agro-tourism initiatives,” says Ervis Krymi to Faktoje.

Recently, Prime Minister Edi Rama shared images of the ongoing construction work on this road, hailing it as an investment in one of the Mediterranean’s most picturesque tourist routes. However, he refrained from providing specific timelines, emphasizing instead the road’s imminent accessibility.

“Good morning from the construction site of the Shëngjin-Velipoja road, which will soon be one of the most spectacular tourist routes in the Mediterranean thanks to its breathtaking landscapes, one of the key investments for further unlocking the fantastic tourism potential in the northern part of the country, where work continues tirelessly to make it passable as early as the upcoming summer season, after overcoming a difficult geological fragment. Wishing you all a wonderful Sunday,” wrote Rama in his post on March 10th.

Good morning from the construction site of the Shëngjin-Velipoja road, which will soon be one of the most spectacular tourist routes in the Mediterranean….



Since its announcement in 2018, the construction of Shëngjin-Velipoja road, initially estimated at 3.8 billion ALL and often embroiled in political disputes, remains incomplete. Monitoring progress towards its scheduled completion in September 2024, the promise made in 2018 can still be deemed unfulfilled.



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