From: Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei
Southern Airport Project Given to Usual Suspects | The Ministry of Infrastructure and Energy has granted the tender for a feasibility study of “an airport in the south of the country” to the company Seed Consulting shpk. Even though the winner was already known on March 6, 2017, the ministry has waited 7 months before publishing it Bulletin of the Public Procurement Agency. At the same time, the Albanian Development Fund is doing another feasibility study on a possible airport in Korça.

Although airports in Vlora and Saranda are planned within the context of the new General National Plan (PPK), the procurement procedure again raises important questions about the way in which the tender was conducted, and the connections of the winning company to Prime Minister Edi Rama and his government.

The maximum budget of the project was 25,000,000 lekë (€180,000), and 5 companies made a bid: Abkons shpk, Seed Consulting shpk, Infra Transproject shpk, GrAlbania shpk, and Gjeokonsulting & Co shpk. Gjeoconsulting was disqualified and didn’t appeal the decision.

This means that 4 companies competed in the second round of the tender, in which the lowest offer counts. Seed Consulting won with an offer of 24,640,000, or 98.6% of the maximum budget. This means that necessarily the 3 other companies should have bid higher than that in order to lose. Unfortunately, this cannot be checked, because the ministry has failed to publish the other 3 offers.

According to data from the National Registration Center (QKR), Seed Consulting is owned for 50% by Ylli Gjoni, with Andi Efthimi, Altin Premit, Alban Efthimi, and Olsi Efthimi each owning 12.5%. The latter are also owners of Atelier 4, the favorite architecture company of the Prime Minister, involved in the reconstruction of the vetting building, the expansion of Tirana International Hotel, the general local plan for Kolonja, Këlcyra, and Përmet, the reconstruction of the Pazar i Ri, and many other government projects.

Ylli Gjoni is the former director of state company Albpetrol, and was fired in 2009 on account of maladministration and failure to pay the employees of the company, which has continued to be a problem.

Gjoni founded Seed Consulting in 2014 with the owners of Atelier 4, and most recently came in the news as the winner (with Atelier 4) of the (also fraudulent) Gjirokastra Bypass tender. As Exit reported before, the project violated its terms of reference, destroyed cultural monuments in a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and cost twice the amount of the tender.

During a meeting organized by Minister of Culture Mirela Kumbaro, Gjoni declared the following about his project, which would destroy priceless heritage:

The solution in this protected historical zone is strained, it is a difficult solution and this project is invasive, but it is the only way to make it sustainable. UNESCO has expressed itself in superlatives.

These are some of the “superlatives” expressed by UNESCO:

The management plan measures and the recently established coordination authority responsible for implementing the plan should encourage an active policy of preservation and conservation of the property’s Outstanding Universal Value, particularly as regards urban construction management and visitor facilities.

So here we are again: a dubious tender with incomplete information, a winner with a 98.6% bid closely tied to the government, and a history of “stretching the boundaries” of the legally acceptable. And these people will be responsible for “opening up” the south to tourism.