From: Exit Staff
Government Uses Earthquake Damage as Excuse to Launch Another PPP

The latest PPP to befall Albanian society has been announced by the Council of Ministers this week. As Exit News had predicted, Student City, the country’s largest university dormitory complex will be rebuilt and managed for the next 10 years by a private company, by way of a concession scheme. The project will also include the construction of a hotel and a number of other private commercial units.

Bids for the concession will be evaluated by a commission comprising of five members of the Municipality of Tirana, two from the Concession Treatment Agency (ATRAKO), one from the Ministry of Education and one from the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

So far, no information has been released about the project and no details about its value or duration have been made public.

Exit has found that the project has been on the backburner since at least 2015. In that year, the government organised a competition to design a development project for the area. The winner was a merger of seven companies, namely Baukuh, List, F&M Ingegneria SPA, Space Caviar, Boda and Abkons.

The winning project envisaged a 10-year concession contract for the construction, maintenance and management of the entire Student City structure, at a cost of €72 million. 

The proposed project would include dormitory and apartment buildings, four sports fields, two gyms (one for students and one private gym), six hotels (four for students and two for private use), one library and one parking area.

All of these facilities would be built on the existing Student City space including its sports fields. Private buildings would be erected on public land to be given to developers by the state as part of the concession contract.

The plan was included in the “Tirana Municipality Sustainable Development Strategy 2018-2022”, adopted in 2018, detailing the plan for the creation of five new neighbourhoods in the city, one of which was that of Student City that included the reconstruction of existing buildings and construction of new buildings. 

Progress on the project fell relatively quiet and its implementation proved difficult due to tenants inhabiting three blocks, buildings 15, 18, and 19.

Citizens who had inhabited buildings 15 and 19 told Exit that while they had been evicted in December, amidst panic spread by the Municipality, they have still not received any rental bonus or any other form of compensation. One has been forced to take a loan from the bank to cover the cost of their rent.

A resident of building 18 told Exit that “it was not damaged at all” but that number 19 was in a state that they felt was unsafe to be inhabited.

The November 26 earthquake gave the Municipality a way to “solve” the problem by exploiting panic over unsafe buildings. In a hurried procedure, within 48 hours of the earthquake, the Municipality had assessed the buildings, concluded that they are unsafe, and the City Council made a decision to demolish them. 

Both the decision of the Council and the demolition was illegal as none of the inspections for the three buildings said that they should be demolished.