The Rama government mandated €5 Milot–Morina highway toll make communication between Kosova and Albania more expensive, creating, thus, a barrier between the two countries.
What do we know so far about the government’s decisions, starting from the concession award up until the current toll?
In November 2015, then Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Edmond Haxhinasto announced that there were two companies interested in the concession for the construction and maintenance of the Milot–Morina segment.
This was the second tender regarding this segment. In the previous tender, opened a few months before, there were no applicants.
Haxhinasto also announced that the concessionary company may institute a highway toll, but that it would be no higher than €5.
A few weeks later, in December 2015, General Secretary of the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure announced that the offers of the two bidding consortiums had been too high and that the consultant IFC had advised against accepting either because the offers were unprofitable.
In early 2016, the Ministry opened a third tender for the Milot–Morina segment, which closed on May 31, 2016.
In July 2016, the Ministry announced that the winning consortium was the one comprising the Albanian Salillari Ltd and Kastrati companies, and the Turkish Vendeka Bilgi Teknolojileri Ltd.
According to the concessionary contract, the concessionary company must build a bridge over river Drin, complete unfinished parts along the segment, set up all the necessary road signs, and maintain the highway for 30 years.
In this instance, the Ministry did not mention a highway toll.
On March 23 2018, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure announced that, starting from April 15, a highway toll will be instituted for the 115-km-long Milot–Morina segment.
The detailed highway tolls are:
– Motorcycles will pay €2.5 for one-way trips, so €5 for round trips.
– Cars will pay €5 for one-way trips, so €10 for round
– Buses and light trucks will pay €11.2 for one-way trips, so €22.4 for round trips.
– Medium trucks will pay €16.2 for one-way trips, so €32.4 for round trips.
– Heavy trucks will pay €22.5 for one-way trips, so €45 for round trips.
The tolls will be collected and used by the concessionary company. They exceed, almost four times, the toll recommended by the consulting company, Egnatia Odhos, that, in its confidential report, advises on a €1–€2.5 per 100 km toll.
The report states that the above figures would be most affordable for Albanian citizens.
According to the company, the highest affordable fee for Albanians would be €3.5 per 100 km. Currently, the Milot-Morina highway toll is €4.2 per 100 km.
At the same time, compared to other European highway tolls, the Rruga e Kombit one is higher.
Politicians and activists have explained how the institution of a new toll, at a time when citizens are already paying two additional fees – a road maintenance tax and vehicle registration fee – is unconstitutional and illegal.
Pano Soko explained to Nismë Thurje that Albanians pay a 32.4 lekë tax for every liter of gas they purchase. The annual revenue from this tax is estimated at €117 million. Meanwhile, citizens who own a car pay an annual vehicle registration fee of 12,000 lekë. The annual revenue these fees bring in, also meant to go towards road maintenance, is estimated at €36 million. In total, then, €153 million worth of taxes are collected every year for road maintenance.
According to a 2015 study by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and the World Bank, the budget needed for the maintenance of Albania’s roads is estimated at €60–65 million per year.
Consequentially, the €153 million collected annually from citizens is more than enough to cover all of Albania’s needs for road maintenance.