The roads of Tirana turned into a construction site a few months before the local elections on May 14th. But was this an electoral asphalt campaign? A Fact-check investigation that started before the campaign for the local elections on May 14th, which also involved citizens’ surveys, shows that construction was initiated for 100 roads in Tirana, and the implementation time was only 1 month. The budget allocated for asphalt in the Municipality of Tirana for this year was around 500 million lekë excluding VAT, and the same amount was planned to be carried out in 2024. However, in the first four months of this election year, over 90% of the total fund for two years was allocated to construction contracts.
After his third mandate, in the elections on May 14th, the Mayor of Tirana, Erion Veliaj, conducted an inspection of the road asphalting works in the capital city.
“Last night, in Neighbourhood 12, I tightly grasped the hands of my colleagues who tirelessly work on asphalting until late hours of the night, where work thrives around the clock. This ongoing work campaign in Tirana never ceases, not even for a single day,” wrote Veliaj on Facebook on May 23rd.
The Facebook post by Mayor Veliaj, May 23, 2023
Faktoje initiated a verification during the election campaign, which also included a survey with followers on social networks on April 18th, asking them if they had noticed road laying and asphalting in recent months. Through comments and illustrative photos, citizens of Tirana were claiming that road interventions were taking place in residential areas.
The question we asked to our followers on social media
Faktoje conducted an on-site verification in several areas of the capital, where we observed that two months before the local elections on May 14th, intensive work was being carried out on many roads in Tirana.
The “George W. Bush” Street, Tirana, April 18, 2023
From the verification, we observed that a significant number of roads lacked signage at the construction sites, although this is a violation of the law.
Kavaja Street, April 13, 2023
“Myslym Shyri” Street
Considering the public interest regarding this issue, we conducted a verification of the planning process for road laying and asphalting in Tirana.
In the meeting held on September 6th, 2022, the Municipal Council of Tirana approved several changes to the municipality’s budget for the years 2022-2024. Only four months before the end of the 2022 fiscal year and around 9 months after the local elections on May 14th, 2023, the municipality’s budget includes, for the first time, the line item: “Improvement, asphalting of roads in Administrative Units 1-11 and Neighbourhoods 12-14.” This 3-year project, with a budget of approximately 1.2 billion lekë or over 10 million euros including VAT, would be financed 20% in 2022 (the minimum requirement specified by legislation for the management of the budget system for multi-year projects), 30% in 2023, and 50% in 2024.
Source: Municipality of Tirana – Decision No. 78, dated September 6th, 2022 “On several amendments to Decision No. 166, dated December 24th, 2021, of the Municipal Council ‘On the approval of the medium-term budget program 2022-2024 and the breakdown of the Tirana Municipality budget for 2022 (as amended).”
After this approval, the Municipality of Tirana has announced the procedure for entering into a framework agreement with several Economic Operators for this purpose, with a funding limit of 1 billion lekë without VAT (1.2 billion lekë with VAT). The procedure took place on November 14, 2022.
After notifying the winning operators on December 6, 2022, and the expiration of the legal deadlines for appeals, the signing of the framework agreement was proceeded with. This agreement has a two-year term, supported by the fact that 50% of the funds are to be implemented in 2024.
The Municipal Council of Tirana reaffirmed the funding for this project through the budget of 2023, where again 50% of the funds remained for 2024, and only half for 2023.
Source: Municipality of Tirana
According to the study of Mini-contracts signed solely for the project “Road Asphalt Rehabilitation in Administrative Units 1-11 and Neighbourhoods 12-14,” it is found that from the beginning of the year until May 2, 2023, based on the data from the APP bulletins, 103 mini-contracts for road asphalt works in the city of Tirana have been signed.
In all cases, the implementation time for the works is only 1 month, concentrating the intensity of a 2-year project in just a few months. The asphalt contracts have an average value of around 80,000 euros (79,500) per road.
The lowest amount spent on asphalt is on the road Derhemi (connecting “Hoxha Tahsim” road with “Qemal Stafa”) with a value of 14,285 euros. The highest amount spent on asphalt is behind the 9-year school “26 Nëntori” with 363,197 euros.
Screenshot, table processed by Faktoje
Here is an illustrative table for every road in the territory of the Municipality of Tirana, where you can identify the road and the cost of the works on it.
Although the budget allocated for road asphalt works in the Municipality of Tirana for the year 2023 is only half of the 1 billion lekë fund without VAT, and the other half was supposed to be realized in 2024, it appears that within the first 4 months of the year, contracts for works have been allocated up to 92% of the total fund for the two years.
On April 19, Faktoje sent a request for information to the Municipality of Tirana, seeking detailed data on the design, construction, and supervision of these works. This includes information on the dates when the procedures for design, legal deadlines for appeals, project preparation, announcement of the construction bidding, appeal deadlines, mini-contract signing, and completion of works took place within a 4-month time frame, covering over a hundred roads in Tirana.