By Ilda.Hoxha

The Veliera in Durrës is one of the projects being delayed for years. In August 2020, Mayor Emiriana Sako stated that the project would conclude in October. However, after more than a year from that statement, the Veliera remains an incomplete metal structure. Faktoje was officially informed by Durrës Municipality that the project works are in the fourth stage, but there is no established deadline as of yet. According to data from ‘Open Procurement’, the construction costs for “Veliera” have doubled.

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“Veliera” is one of the projects that have given rise to numerous debates and conflicts in the coastal city and beyond. The project works started in December 2016 and, more than 5 years later, the “Veliera” is yet to be finished. According to Open Procurement data, the initial fund amounted to ALL 487 461 000,00, while in the additional contract, dated 26.05.2020, the fund increased to ALL 84 981 120,00.

“The works for the construction of the support foundation are underway and we are awaiting the arrival of missing parts of the Veliera from Italy. Then, the works will proceed with its installation and the project is expected to conclude in October. The completion of this contract will be followed by another stage involving the coverage of the Veliera with materials that will be selected by design studios in collaboration with Durrës Municipality”, Mayor Sako said in August 2020.

One year after Ms. Sako’s promise, specifically in August 2021, Faktoje submitted a request for information to Durrës Municipality inquiring about the stage of works concerning the Veliera. This institution officially stated that the investment is yet to complete, while adding that the Municipality has requested funds for this purpose.

“As regards the Veliera object, all three stages have concluded and, in order to complete the investment, the Municipality has request funds. The fund for all three stages amounts to ALL 864.063.492”, Durrës Municipality stated.

Reply of Durrës Municipality

However, given that Durrës Municipality’s reply was incomplete, Faktoje addressed another request for information to the institution on December 24, 2021. Durrës Municipality officially informed us that the works for the Veliera are in the fourth stage.

“In terms of the Veliera stage 4 procedure, we are in the process of announcing the winner of the contract, which will be entered into by the Albanian Development Fund and the winning operator,” explains the Municipality.

Durrës Municipality’s reply to Faktoje, January 13, 2022

Faktoje decided to undertake an on-site verification in the coastal city on November 23, 2021, in order to see the Veliera works progress. We visited the widely discussed project and also talked to Durrës residents, who openly expressed their disappointment about the Veliera.

Veliera in Durrës, November 2021

“Metal everywhere, tonnes of metal that cost who knows how much and was paid for by our labor. Prior to all of this being constructed, the sea used to be visible from nearly 1-2 km away. Now the sea view is blocked”, said an elderly man in Durrës.

Another resident told Faktoje that he had no idea what the meaning of this “abstract object” is and, in his opinion, the works have been dragged on for years.

Veliera in Durrës, November 2021

“It is an abstract object that we do not even understand what it is. Every day, we see metal rods up in the air and nothing else. We never wanted this project”, said a resident in his 40s.

There has been a legal battle of several years between Durrës Municipality and civil society representatives, with the latter submitting requests to demolish the “Veliera”. In April 2021, the Appellate Court decided to continue the investigation on the “Veliera” project.

On December 7, 2016, the works for the “Veliera” square in Durrës commenced and the media at the time reported that the public investment table did not contain any explanatory data, except for the firm that had been awarded the tender.

The project to adjust the square in front of Durrës Port was designed by the Albanian architecture studio ERALD -G + ARKONSTUDIO and a renowned Italian architecture studio called ARCHEA.

“The new public square will have a surface area of 12 thousand square meters and the sail above will be 2 thousand square meters. The total project amount will be around USD 4 million. The renowned Italian architect, head of the ‘Archea’ studio, Marco Casamonti, has introduced the new ‘Veliera’ project in technical details and believes it will be one of Durrës’ modern symbols.

“What is today merely a vehicle crossing with traffic jams and constant cars will soon become a space for pedestrians, entertainment, and an open area, but covered,” the project’s introduction stated.

What the Veliera is expected to look like, project photo

Based on the statement of Mayor Sako, reply of Durrës Municipality, and on-site visit, we would categorize this promise as UNKEPT.