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The transformation of the port of Durres threatens its history with extinction

The transformation of the port of Durres threatens its history with extinction

A photo exhibition has been installed on the railings of the port of Durrës for months, documenting the various stages of the port's development, from 1928 until today.

Passers-by of different ages often stop to learn about its history.

"It is a kind of open museum with photos, which has value for local citizens and foreign visitors," says Dorina Xheraj Subashi, cultural heritage activist in the city.

The photos of the past take on a special value at a time when the appearance of the port of Durrës is expected to change forever after the project approved by the Albanian government for the construction of a complex of palaces and a tourist marina in the territory of the current port.

The Durrës Yacht & Marina project has received through the status of a strategic investor the area of ​​about 80 hectares of the port of Durrës, while the Albanian state is a co-shareholder in this disputed project.

But Xeraj Subashi is worried that this transformation is threatening with extinction the distant and recent history of the port of Durrës.

"I believe that enterprises such as the merchant fleet or the shipyard will be completely forgotten as soon as the construction of the apartments begins," she said. "The municipality and cultural heritage institutions have no plan for the coexistence of the current city with the new neighborhood that will be built," she added.

Heritage activists are not the only ones concerned about the disappearance of a piece of the city's history.

Galip Dedej worked for 52 years in a row, first at the construction site and then as a sailor of the Durrës navy. He would like it if, in order to preserve the collective memory of hundreds of residents of Durres, the streets of the luxury neighborhood that is expected to be built were named after the port's enterprises.

"I liked to go to work by bicycle with my father, Besim," Galipi remembers about the beginnings of his work in 1954. "I know that everything will change, but at least we can bring our grandchildren...," he added. .

Even Dashamir Janina, founder of the "Adrijon" association, is of the opinion that the integration of the historical monuments of the port within the Durrës Yacht & Marina project would preserve a part of the heritage. Janina herself has been trying for 23 years to create a maritime museum in Durrës.

"Still not knowing what the future of the port would be, we have proposed that the museum pavilions be placed in the former port club "Mujo Ulqinaku," Janina said.

Other residents of Durrës connect the history of the port with the mass exodus of March 1991, where thousands of citizens left by ship for Italy. Sefer Aga is one of them. He remembers how moved he was when in the photos of an exhibition about the exodus of March 1991 he also found himself, climbing on the ropes of one of the ships that left for the opposite shores.

"Later we learned that from the port of Durrës to Brindisi only in the first week of March, 26 vessels of different tonnages with nearly 25 thousand Albanians in total left," says Aga, now retired.

"Durres should have a monument dedicated to the exodus, not only to the one in March 1991, but also to those Albanians who entered foreign embassies in July 1990, and then in August 1991," he added.

Unfortunately, Durrës has a bad tradition of preserving cultural and historical heritage, which according to Dorina Xheraj Subashi, will also affect the port of Durres.

"The modern port began to be built almost 100 years ago," she says while adding that "today's young people will completely forget its history"./ BIRN

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