One week ahead of the June 23 general elections, the prime minister has inaugurated a massive double-bore tunnel, part of a highway linking Tirana to the central Albanian city of Elbasan.
The tunnel, which cuts travel time to Elbasan and southeastern Albania considerably, is the largest public works project Prime Minister Sali Berisha’s government has implemented during its second consecutive term of office.
The prime minister and other party leaders addressed Democratic Party supporters at a rally ahead of the ceremony.
“The tunnel is a magnificent monument of a model which has only one goal: improving your life, ” Berisha told supporters. “We keep our word. This inauguration is evidence of that.”
The Durres-Kukes highway linking Albania to Kosovo through a 5.5 km twin-bore tunnel was also inaugurated on the verge of the 2009 general elections and accompanied by a similar campaign rally four years ago.
The current electoral campaign has seen a large number of infrastructure projects set to be finished just ahead of the elections, causing some concern that public works are being used to fuel the ruling coalition’s electoral campaign.
The prime minister said at the inauguration that his aim was to unite Albanians and the infrastructure benefits all regardless of political affiliation.
The 2.5 km Kerrabe tunnel is part of the Tirane-Elbasan highway, a 27-km four-lane highway, worth USD 204 million, which is still under construction. The Kerrabe tunnel, worth USD 101 million, was completed in a record 13 months, government says in a statement.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony last Sunday, Prime Minister Sali Berisha described the tunnel as a key segment for the Corridor VIII project with Italy, Macedonia and Bulgaria and a major route cutting distance to southeastern and southern Albania.
The road will considerably cut distance between capital Tirana and Elbasan, the third most populated region of Albania, and a hub to the southeastern Albania.
The highway, which is expected to cut the distance to Elbasan from the current 48 kilometres to only 31 kilometres, will have four lanes and two tunnels, 2.3 and 2.1 km long each — saving passengers to Elbasan 40 minutes in travel time.