Management of Kukës Airport Awarded to Consortium With No Experience

Two days ago, the government awarded the concession contract to reconstruct and operate the Kukës Airport to a consortium of Bami shpk and Global Technical Mechanics shpk. Minister of Infrastructure Belinda Balluku said that the construction works will last for two years and the concession itself for 35 years.

The concession contract has not been made public.

The tender winning companies, Bami and Global Technical Mechanics have no previous experience in similar projects.

An investigation by found that Kastrati Group, one of the companies closely associated with the government, stands behind Global Technical Mechanics and is the real beneficiary of the Kukës Airport concession contract.

Kastrati Group is also the concession holder of the highway that connects Kukës Airport with Kosovo and the rest of Albania, the Rruga e Kombit highway. Last year, the citizens of Kukës protested against the tolls.

Background of the Call for Tenders

In 2018, a consortium made up of Kastrati sh.a. and TMD Systems Ltd submitted to the Ministry of Infrastructure an unsolicited proposal to reconstruct and operate the Kukës Airport, which was constructed in 2006.

On July 11th, 2018, the Council of Ministers approved the unsolicited proposal and opened the call for tenders while awarding the consortium with 8 percent bonus points for its proposal.

However, the original Kastrati and TMD System consortium didn’t submit any tender offers despite the unsolicited proposal it had made and the bonus awarded. The only consortium to submit an offer was Bami shpk and Global Technical Mechanics, which won the tender as the only bidder.

None of the companies in the winning consortium have previous experiences with projects directly or indirectly related to reconstructing or operating airports or similar structures. Exit learned that one of the main tender requirements was to prove– through licenses by international aviation authorities– to have the technical expertise and experience in the relevant field. The winning consortium clearly did not meet the main requirement.

Tender Winning Companies

Bami shpk was registered in 1999 in Krujë and it’s owned by Shkëlqim Bami. Starting form 2012, the company constructed small streets with annual revenues of EUR 2-5 million. During 2017, its revenues doubled compared to the previous year and were several times higher than the years before.

Global Technical Mechanics was registered in 2017. Since its establishment, it has had no activity and has conducted no works. Its first work is expected to be the reconstruction and operation of Kukës Airport.

The only owner of the company is Ridgers Mema, 26 years old. Exit learned that Mr Mema is actually an employee of Kastrati Group.

Mr Mema also holds shares in three other companies, two of which operate in the field of oil production, import and export. In both of them Kastrati Group was either a shareholder and sold the shares to Rigels Mema, or was a board member. These companies are Al Global Oil and Ak Trade International Oil. In addition, Mr Mema is a shareholder at Intechs Balkans, which operates in the IT field.

All the above listed facts indicate that Ridgers Mema and his Global Mechanics company are just a cover for the Kastrati Group, which appears to be one of the two ultimate beneficiary companies for the implementation of the Kukës Airport concession contract.