The cancellation of the tender procedure for the feasibility study and project idea for the railway line Durrës – Pristina has been used by the media as fuel to feed the ‘fire’ that ignited between the leaders of Albania and Kosovo, following the tensions created in the north in May 2023. A fact-check by Faktoje reveals that, in reality, the cancellation of the tender procedure occurred due to a complaint from one of the participating operators in the tender and not because of a “final split between Rama and Kurti,” as interpreted on the network.
The announcement of the cancellation of the procedure to tender the feasibility study and project concept for the Durrës – Pristina railway construction has been construed as a political manoeuvre by Prime Minister Rama against his counterpart in Kosovo, Albin Kurti.
“Based on documents obtained by Bold News, the Albanian Railways, an institution directly under the authority of Deputy Prime Minister Belinda Balluku, has revoked the tender for the feasibility study of the Durrës – Pristina railway. Balluku’s officials officially cancelled it citing document deficiencies, but what lies beneath is the tense relationship between Rama and Kurti,” wrote Bold News in the article dated July 25, 2023.
Indeed, whether deliberate or not, Bold News reported the tender’s cancellation just a day before the Albanian Railways re-announced the procedure.
In 2021, the Albanian and Kosovar governments entered into an agreement to collaboratively fund the construction of the Durrës – Pristina railway. Nearly a year later, on October 14, 2022, the Albanian Railways initiated the process for soliciting proposals for the feasibility study and project concept of the Durrës – Pristina railway line.
The news received extensive media coverage from the moment the tender announcement was made, specifying that participating operators had until November 2022 to submit their proposals.
The tender data indicated that it concerned the procurement of consultancy services for the feasibility study and project concept of the Durrës – Pristina railway line, with a maximum budget of 200 million and 225 thousand Albanian lekë (1.7 million euros).
The contract was initially planned to have a duration of 18 months starting from its signing. On December 8, 2022, the Public Procurement Commission informed the seven participating operators about their progress to the next phase or their disqualification from the competition.
- “Tecnica y Proyectos” S.A ———————————————————– qualified
- “Yuksel Proje” A.S ——————————————————————— qualified
- “Dromos Consulting” LTD ———————————————————– disqualified
- “Hill International” NV—————————————————————- disqualified
- BOE “ILF Consulting Engineers Austria” GmbH & “Abkons” SHPK——— disqualified
- “Studio Archimed” SHPK ———————————————————— disqualified
- “Tecnic Consulting Engineers” SpA———————————————— disqualified
Ten days following this notification, on December 19, 2022, a complaint was lodged with the Public Procurement Agency by one of the participants in the tender competition, specifically the economic operator alliance of “ILF Consulting Engineers Austria” GmbH & “Abkons” SHPK.
The basis for the complaint was associated with the decision of the Bid Evaluation Committee, which had disqualified the proposal put forth by this alliance of operators.Signed_28172Formularperpublikimarsyeteskualiifkimitteankimuesit
This news was widely reported in the media, and one of the platforms that covered it was the Bold News portal itself.
Approximately four months after the complaint was lodged, on April 7, 2023, the Public Procurement Commission issued a decision concerning the disqualification case of “ILF Consulting Engineers Austria” GmbH & “Abkons” SHPK.
After a thorough review of the case documents, the Public Procurement Commission determined that the grounds for disqualifying this operator were not substantiated. The Commission further advised that the authority (Albanian Railways) should undertake a comprehensive analysis of the documentation submitted by the consortium of operators, as it meets the required legal criteria.
In conclusion, the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) decided to uphold the complaint submitted by the consortium of the two companies, “ILF Consulting Engineers Austria” GmbH & “Abkons” SHPK. The PPC has instructed Albanian Railways “to re-evaluate the procurement procedure in compliance with the law on public procurement and to notify the Public Procurement Commission of the steps taken to implement the decision within a period of 5 days.”
Within 5 working days, on April 14, 2023, Albanian Railways cancelled the tendering process.
It is not specified in the BoldNews article which documents are being referred to when interpreting the tender cancellation as an “act of revenge” by Edi Rama against Albin Kurti. Nevertheless, it is a fact that on July 26, 2023, just one day after the publication of the BoldNews article, Albanian Railways reissued the tender call.
The feasibility study for the project envisioning a railway link between the port of Durrës and Pristina has been announced by the Albanian government as a key undertaking for the year 2023. The official endorsement for the construction of this railway came with the signing of a memorandum of cooperation between the governments of Albania and Kosovo in Elbasan on November 26, 2021.
Furthermore, this investment has been allocated a place in the state budget, falling within the ambit of public investments supported by foreign financing for the period spanning from 2023 to 2025.
Minister of Infrastructure, Belinda Balluku, has revealed that Albania will be responsible for 51% of the project’s funding, leaving the remaining portion to be covered by Kosovo.
The memorandum of cooperation between Albania and Kosovo, focused on the construction of this railway line, seeks to establish a connection within the Western Balkans, extending the railway route 7 (Nish – Doljevac – Pristina). The aim is to access a deep-sea port along the Adriatic coastline.
The impetus for this railway project came from the 2020 Washington Agreement between Kosovo and Serbia. The agreement outlined that “both parties will execute the Belgrade-Pristina railway accord, signed on February 14, 2020. Moreover, both parties will commit to conducting a feasibility study for potential connectivity between the Belgrade-Pristina railway infrastructure and a deep-sea port on the Adriatic.”
In light of these publicly available facts, it becomes evident that the cancellation of the procedure for tendering the feasibility study and project idea for the Durrës – Pristina railway line is not linked to any “revenge” action by Prime Minister Rama against Kurti. Rather, it stems from challenges encountered during the evaluation of proposals submitted by the participating economic operators in the tender process.
Simultaneously, the reissuing of the tender indicates that Albanian Railways has only annulled the initial procedure and not the actual tender for the execution of this public project, which is earmarked as part of the investments for the years 2023 – 2025 in the state budget.
Furthermore, it is important to note that Albanian Railways is a joint-stock company with the Ministry of Economy and Finance as its sole shareholder, rather than being an institution under the authority of Deputy Prime Minister Balluku, as suggested in the article. As a result, the information published by BoldNews is partially inaccurate.