Work to construct tunnel on Kardhiq-Delvinë road kicks off

Work kicked off today to construct the tunnel along the Delvine-Kardhiq road, a strategic road infrastructure project that will open up significant new areas of tourism potential and economic development of this area in southern Albania and Saranda in particular, where intensive work is underway to complete next year this long-awaited  project that has been a constant promise over decades.

Prime Minister Edi Rama, accompanied by the Minister of Infrastructure and Energy, Belinda Balluku inspected the ongoing construction work on the fourth section of the road. Energy and Infrastructure Minister Balluku explained that despite rough mountainous terrain work is progressing rapidly and the project could complete well ahead of the deadline.

“This is the fourth section of the road, where it meets the entrance of Skerfice tunnel, which is the seventh section of the 33-km Kardhiq-Delvine road. As projected, around 80 percent of the physical work has already completed, whereas construction is currently in various phases along other sections of this road. The sections 1, 2, 3 have already completed. Around 80 percent of the construction work has already completed on the sections 4, 5 and 6. This is the seventh section, or the Kardhiq tunnel, whose construction will start immediately with the contract already now signed. This is the entrance part we are accessing to go on then with the tunnel’s opening in the coming days. It is worth mentioning the fact that section 8, too, which is connected with Saranda, has already completed, yet it still needs some interventions to rehabilitate road’s escarpments, the traffic signs and other minor details. It is a very rough formation, just like it has been the case with the section 4, as the road stretches along a hilly, mountainous area,” Balluku said.

The construction manager emphasized noted that with the current intense work, the project is expected to complete in 12 months from a 24-month deadline included on the contract. “We are intensely studying the tunnel’s geological formation, while what hinges on us is making utmost effort to break time record by around 50 percent.

The new national road Kardhiq-Delvine will avoid driving along the badly maintained and destroyed road winding the Muzine Pass and it will shorten the trip between Gjirokaster and the southern coastal town of Saranda. The new road project is expected to give a fresh impetus to tourism development, economy and employment in the area. “This is a very important road axis as it will connect the entire part of Gjirokaseter district with the district of Vlora and Saranda in particular, providing access to mountainous and cultural tourism attractions in this area, as well as the sea tourism along the southern coast of the country. So, it is a vitally important road infrastructure project to the two southern districts, which heavy rely on tourism industry. Therefore, the road is of paramount importance for both regions where tourism figures contribute significantly to economic growth , so the demand to increase momentum is very important to make up for the lost time due to the procedure of this tunnel,” Infrastructure and Energy Minister said.

Prime Minister Rama was interested in the geological study of the area where the tunnel will be built, for which the representatives of the construction company explained that the study is being carried out based on the today’s most modern technology.

“For the first time in Albania, a new a geophysical research technique is being employed that enables reliable geophysical information up to 500-600 meters. “We have already completed up to 70% of the geophysical research and we will have the results to finalize the connection in a week’s time,” company representatives said.

Minister Balluku noted that utmost attention is being paid to the tunnel’s formation so that any potential problem is avoided through best technical solutions.  “The experience with the tunnels has shown us that although a proper geological study is in place, there are often surprises, as it was the case with the Murriz tunnel, that even though we had a good study, there, all the time, numerous water formations create an extraordinary problem with clay lays, which seem to be very strong and durable, but when in contact with water, they melt and create the problem we are facing and to which technical solutions are being provided,” she explained.

Infrastructure Minister Balluku and company representatives confirmed that the sections 4, 5 and 6 are expected to complete in October.

“Based on what I was told, the tunnel is set to open to traffic by next October and this fantastic news,” PM Rama said, who then was driven along the new Delvine-Kardhiq road that will soon offer travellers a drive through a stunning landscape.