Kosovo Albania - Highway of Nation
by Vahidin Nurshaba
As of 2007 Republic of Albania, and then in 2010 Republic of Kosovo, have started the largest project in the last decade in road building across the Balkan countries, respectively the highway between Kosovo and Albania. The Albania’s part of the highway is known as “Rruga e Kombit” (Highway of the Nation), and in the part of Kosovo it is named after its first president since declaring its independence, Dr. Ibrahim Rugova.
It is a four lane highway, and it is being built by the distinguished Turkish American company called Bechtel & Enka. The cost of the highway is overseen to be more than 1 Billion Euros. The Project is part of the South East Europe route, to start from the city Lezhe in Albania and end at the E75 Corridor X in Doljevac in Nish, Serbia. Once the Kosovo part of the project is completed, the highway will join Adriatic Sea ports of Dures and Shengjin in Albania with the Pan-European Corridor X in Serbia through Prishitna, Republic of Kosovo. So far, one part of the project is finished, and the new route from Duhel, Kosovo to Thuanene, Albania is already accessible.
This project has helped in reducing the transportation cost and time between Prishtina (the capital city of Kosovo) and Tirana (the capital city of Albania). In comparison with the old poor mountains road, the contributed reduction was from 9 hours to just 3 hours in time. The road is financed by its respective governments. The emphasis goes around on occurring agglomeration along the highway between two countries, the highway that goes through the villages; there are modern shopping malls, hotels, gas station and restaurants opened along the highway because there is a demand for travelers to access those facilities for their use. However, the most significant feature is the comfort ability of traveling from Prishtina to Tirana for only three hours time of travel distance and the highways complies to high European standards which includes the tunnels and bridges.
From economic geography point of view, the advantages are for both countries. First, the patriotic feelings of nationalism between the two nations that will contribute in unification of policies that will culturally confine them. Second, it is a massive boost for tourism in Albania enabling Kosovars, Macedonians, and other neighboring countries to go for the summer to Albanian beautiful coastline. Furthermore, trade and labour mobility is increased further among the two countries due to reduced transportation cost and time span. Meanwhile, road opened new opportunities for new investments in which case Kosovo telecommunications companies started to open their branches in Albania, and vie-versa Albanian companies are present now in the Kosovo markets. Finally, it helped create jobs as long as the constructions were taking place since both of the Governments have specified in their contracts that labor force shall be employed locally.
The former Albanian Prime Minister believes that the road will “crystallize a year-round tourism industry and double the size of the Albanian market while allowing both communities to rationalize the market, Kosovo will probably start planting wheat while Albania deals with livestock and vegetable growing”, said Majko. Same has happened on the Kosovo side. Initially, there were villages with no prosperity whatsoever. However, now that the highway passes through those less developed villages, there are new shops, hotels and restaurants opened, providing those villages hope to prosper and commute more with the capitals. Another important aspect of agglomeration that occurred is that at the points of the borders between two countries, there are some services done well at the points of the border because it is much expensive to move to the capital.