The municipality of Durrës will soon begin a series of public construction works that will threaten the ancient ruins of the city, including two underground tunnels, a service building, and two other public buildings in park Mausoleum Park.
The news outlet Aktiv për Durrësin was the first to publicize this project through a Facebook post, announcing the beginning of the works. According to the outlet, the new buildings will be used by the prosecution and court of Durrës.
Although the project itself has not been made public, some of its aspects were revealed through an interview of Mayor Vangjush Dako with Albania Free Press in April 2017. In this interview, Mayor Dako announced that the project would consist of two phases. The first one would cost €5 million, which had been covered, while the costs of the second remained unclear.
According to Dako, two underpasses for car traffic will be built near the Martyrs’ Mausoleum in Durrës, including an underground roundabout. The current road will be transformed in a square for pedestrians. On the two sides of the newly created square two new buildings will arise, one for the court and one for the prosecution.
Dako also mentioned the construction of several “commercial spaces” that will be managed by the municipality. He didn’t give any further details except that “the terraces of these spaces will be transformed into green space, into miniparks.”
The project will consist of the following
- Costs: 700 million lekë for the first phase (~€5 million)
- First tunnel: under the Mausoleum Road, 295 m
- Second tunnel: under Aleksandër Goga Road, 265 m
- Underground roundabout: diameter 26 m
- Surface of the square: 1,600 sq m, including greenery
- Commercial spaces: 30–35 sq m each, with “miniparks”
Albanian Free Press also provided several architectural renders of the project:
The two tunnels and commercial spaces are expected to be finished within this year and will be financed by the Municipality of Durrës, whereas the two “palaces of justice” will be financed by the institutions themselves.
In February 2017, the municipality announced the winner of the tender for the implementation of the first phase, a collaboration between Bajrami M shpk and government favorite Fusha shpk. The tender for the supervision of the works was won by Erald-G in April 2017. Fusha has also been involved in the construction of Skënderbeg Square in Tirana.
The project has been drafted and implemented without any form of transparency, in violation of the Aarhus Convention as well as a number of laws that require public consultation, hearings, and the inclusion of citizens in decision making processes.
The project is scandalous for another, even more important reason: the underground construction work in an area known for the presence of archeological remains will basically destroy all the underground heritage present at the site.
The Mausoleum Park is officially designated as Archeological Zone B, in which construction work is not allowed. In February 2017, the archeologists of the project “The Topography of Epidamn–Dyrrachium,” financed by the French ministry of foreign affairs, announced that during exploratory excavations “at the park of the Martyrs’ Mausoleum they encountered therms from the Roman period.”
Mayor Dako responded to the objection of citizens that the planned construction work would destroy this heritage by stating:
It has become a fashion that for each work undertaken by the Municipality of Durrës there is group who opposes it. But we think that we return the city into a green and public space and provide a better quality of life for the citizens of Durrës.
It appears that Dako has no awareness or does not value the archeological heritage of Durrës, not only from the cultural and spiritual perspective, but also from the perspective of tourism, as he claims that the project will have another argument speaking for it: the construction of the underground tunnel will link the center of Durrës with the beach.