How the new Kukësi was built, the 4 unknown variants and the "disappearance" of the Old Kukësi by HEC Fierze

2024-01-27 11:30:37Histori SHKRUAR NGA KRESHNIK KUÇAJ

In 1961, the Hydropower Plant Design and Construction Directorate received an order to study the scheme of using the Drin River for electricity production.

The variant that was implemented provided for the construction of the Vau t Deja, Koman and Fierza hydropower plants.

Lake Fierza's quota was predicted to reach 500 meters, inevitably flooding a city; Kukës, which was located in the quota of 255 meters. Along with the city of Kukës, several villages were also flooded.

The villages that would be flooded were the village of Brut with 300 inhabitants, the village of Ramhas with 200 inhabitants and the village of Kolsh with 300 inhabitants. Meanwhile, the arable lands of Shalqi with 120 inhabitants, Kênete with 140 inhabitants and Pobreg with 800 inhabitants were also flooded, which would also be transferred to the new city.

At that time, the city of Kukës had 4,000 inhabitants, and together with the inhabitants of the villages that were flooded, it reached 6,000.

Therefore, the design of the new city had to take into account not only the existing population that moved but also the projection of new development as a result of natural growth and the demographic effects that the development of the new city of Kukës brought as an administrative center and residence for workers of chrome, copper mines and other industries.

Under these conditions, a city had to be designed that would have a capacity of about 10 thousand people.

4 variants of where the new city of Kukës would be built

There were 4 variants for the area where the new city of Kukës would be built. The area that had to be available for the area where the new city was to be moved and built was at least 50 hectares.

The first variant was for the construction of the city in the area of ??Bicaj. While analyzing this variant, Bicaj had a positive side of using the existing village buildings and the space needed for the development of a city.

"However, this option turns out to be worthless because it is located 18 kilometers from the mineralized areas, 9 kilometers from the intersection of the Shkodër-Kufi road, the relief of the country is steep and the city is quite scattered" was written in the report of 1961 when these were studied variants, from the Minister of Construction and Communications Josif Pashko.

The second variant was in the area between the villages of Shtiqen and Nangë. But this variant, even though it owned the surface, appeared unsuitable because the sun in this area rises around 10 o'clock as it was obstructed by Gjallica Mountain.

Another problem that made this variant unfavorable was that the new city would be endangered by rocks and snow avalanches coming from the Mountain.

Likewise, the fact that it was located far from mineralized areas and far from the intersection of the road network was also disadvantageous for this area.

The third variant was the construction of the city of Kukës in the village of Gostil. This village presented favorable conditions but had the disadvantage of increasing the distance from the mineralized areas, the long distance from the old town of Kukës, and the distance from the intersection of the road network.

Another disadvantageous element for this variant was the fact that the area of ??Gostil had fertile lands and with the construction of the new city they would go out of use to become a residential area, further reducing the productive capacity in agriculture of the district.

How the new Kukësi was built, the 4 unknown variants and the

The fourth variant was the construction of the city of Ramhasa area. This variant received the approval of the Ministry of Construction and the Executive Committee of the People's Council of Kukës District. The area of ??Ramhasa where the new city of Kukës was built had these positive sides.

It was close to the old city (2 kilometers) which created very favorable conditions for the construction of the new city.

It was located at the intersection of Shkodër-Kufi and Peshkopia roads

It was located between the two main mineralized areas (Kalimash-Suraj and Gjegjan), up to 10 kilometers from each other.

This place was open from many directions, next to the future lake creating beautiful views

From an agricultural point of view, it had less productive land than other countries

The city could in the future be connected by water transport with the border areas of Yugoslavia.

There were conditions for development as a tourist and holiday center

To build a new city with 850 million ALL

In the decision of 1961, it was predicted that the cost of building the city of Kukës would be 850 million ALL. The cost for the time was considered not small. For the new city, the construction of residential apartments, economic, social and cultural structures, paving of roads, etc. was foreseen.

In total, in 1961 it was predicted that the new city would have 1270 apartments in which the inhabitants of the old city and the inhabitants of some villages affected by the creation of the Fierza Hydroelectric Lake would be housed.

The cost of the apartments for the new Kukës would be higher than anywhere else in Albania due to the fact that they were required to be built with a larger area because the families of Kukës were large families. So the new apartments had 2 or 3 rooms, plus a kitchen. Also, due to the climatic conditions of the area, they had to be built with double windows and walls 38 centimeters thick.

During the 60s in the city of old Kukes, an information campaign was launched regarding the benefits that the country would have from the construction of hydropower plants, in order to convince the residents to move.

In 1969, the basic criteria were approved and the projects of the new city of Kukës were approved. At the same time, the construction of new apartments and other buildings began in the new city, while in the old city and in the villages, the gradual process of relocation began.

For the construction of the new city of Kukës, a number of local enterprises were commissioned.

For the construction of the apartments, the Construction Company of Kukës, Sebahsk and the construction companies of Lezha, Kruja and Shkodra were engaged. The latter built 240 apartments respectively.

For the new city, two large bridges over the Drin river and the roads Kalimash-Morina and Kulla e Lum?-Qafa e Tobli with a length of 41 kilometers had to be built. For the construction of these works, the Tirana Road-Bridge Construction and the Elbasan Road-Bridge Construction were engaged.

In addition to the construction of housing in the new Kukës, many social-cultural and economic facilities had to be built, such as water supply, a fruit factory, a flour factory, a refrigerator, a wood processing company, a mechanical workshop, a car park, a hospital, a hotel, a restaurant, two schools 8 school and dormitory, two kindergartens and a kindergarten, the pioneer's house, and many other administrative buildings.

The Cinema, the Post, Telegraph and Telephone building, the sanitary center, the museum, the Palace of Culture, etc., also had to be built.

Young people and pensioners were also involved in the process of building the city in the form of voluntary mobilizations, mainly for the systematization of the city's roads that would later be paved with asphalt.

The process of building the new city was an arduous process, due to the very fact that the terrain was difficult and the process faced numerous difficulties. A document from 1977 proves that the rate of displacement of residents was very slow.

Residents of the new town of Kukës

The new city of Kukës was originally designed to be inhabited only by those who were affected by the flooding caused by Lake Fierza. In this city, the inhabitants of the old city and the inhabitants of the two villages that were completely flooded would be sheltered.

Meanwhile, for a part of the villages that were partially affected, they were moved, through a village resettlement process, where new apartments were built in them as well.

The entire relocation process lasted several years, during which life developed in parallel in the new town and in the old town of Kukes.

In 1972, an ordinance prevented housing in the new apartments from rural residents who were not affected by the flood but wanted to live in the city. This ordinance was requested to be repealed in 1997, when it was accepted that other residents would come to the new city of Kukes.

But the decision was rejected by the authorities of the time considering that it was not necessary for the new city to transfer 260 employees together with their families who came from the villages of Kukës but who worked in the new city.

In this way, only the families that were affected by the flood caused by the lake of the Fierza hydropower plant were initially settled in the new city of Kukes.

The whole process of population transfer, which went parallel to the construction progress, lasted from 1965 to 1978.

Old Kukësi was flooded by the waters of the Fierza lake, and its footprint is visible whenever the level of the Fierza hydroelectric lake, or 'Lake of Light' as it was once named, drops.