From: Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei
AZhT Breaks the Law by Hiding Development Projects

According to the Law on Planning and Development of the Territory, Territorial Development Agency (AZhT), which falls under the the Ministry of Urban Development, is supposed to maintain a national registers containing, among other information, the decisions taken by the National Territorial Council (KKT), headed by Prime Minister Edi Rama. This is further made explicit in Decision of the Council of Ministers (VKM) 725 from September 2, 2015, art. III.1(dh)

In order to provide transparency to Albanian citizens, the decisions of the KKT are supposed to be be published in the Register within 10 days after they are taken, but already for months the latest entry in the Register is one decision from April 14, 2017.

Through a freedom of information request, Exit obtained all the decisions taken by the KKT on that date, discovering 10 other decisions which were not published online.

In response to our request, Director-General Ledia Tota claimed that all decisions of the KKT could be found on the website of the AZhT. However, the most recent decision is the single decision from April 14.

Screenshot from 2017-07-10 14-00-42


These included the two highly controversial proposals to build skyscrapers in the center of Tirana: one behind the Tirana International Hotel and another skyscraper called “DownTown Albania” along the Lana, supposedly on the intersection with the Rruga e Elbasanit, at the current location of the children’s park 7 Xhuxhat.

The 111 Meters High Building Behind Hotel Tirana
Render of the  111 Meters High Building Behind Hotel Tirana.

The extension of the Tirana International Hotel has been proposed by Geci shpk, a construction company that from 2015–2017 already received 1.227.839.833 lekë (~€9 million) in government tenders. The design itself was proposed by Atelier 4, a long-term collaborator of Prime Minister Edi Rama. Construction work at this location will most probably further worsen the traffic conditions along the small ring road behind the hotel, which was also constructed by Geci.

The skyscraper at 7 Xhuxhat, on the other hand, will be built by the otherwise unknown developer DT1 shpk, whose name does not appear in the Albanian business registry. The building itself will feature a relief in the form of the Albanian map.

In violation of the law, the government has failed to publish these and presumably many other plans in the online registry dedicated to it. The result as been months of speculations about both construction projects, which will no doubt further worsen the air quality in Tirana and cement Mayor Erion Veliaj’s reputation as the destroyer of the last green areas of the city, after he recently also approved the construction of several highrise buildings in the Bus Station Park.

Meanwhile, plans for the so-called “Metrobosco” a ring forest around the city proposed by masterplan architect Stefano Boeri, seem to have been indefinitely shelved.

Update: Initially the article identified the AKPT as responsible for updating the register. This was incorrect.