Cars and pollution
06 February, 2014
Cars and pollution
To mitigate air pollution problems in Georgia and its capital in particular, and also to streamline Georgian vehicle park standards in line with the European requirements, Georgian government will readopt obligatory technical testing of vehicles. However, neither the testing nor the payment rate for the test certificate are specified as of yet. The requirement becomes effective starting March 2015. According to Natia Mikeladze, Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, the step was made to get in line with
the safe road traffic requirements of the European Union and also to mitigate heavy air-pollution in the country.
“Georgia has assumed obligations within frames of the associated agreement with the EU to streamline technical conditions of all vehicles with EU standards, which will increase the safety of road traffic and have a positive impact on the environment. Besides, all vehicles registered in Georgia will be able to be included in the international traffic,” Mikeladze said to media. She promised the certificate payment will not be equal to EU rates. It will be reasonable based on the Georgian economy.  
Introduction of obligatory car testing on technical adjustments was revoked by the former government in 2004. Its return is a very unpopular but good move, sector pundits believe. But it should be implemented wisely. Sector pundits advise step-by-step introduction of the requirement. Otherwise it may affect the secondary car market and tax business, which in turn may lead to social discontent.
By statistics of 2012, 91% of 900 thousand vehicles in Georgia are outdated and comprised of cars with an age of over 10 years. And most of those cars are likely to be substandard because they have not been tested since 2004.
As a result, recent research of Ministry of Environmental Protection of Georgia made alarming revelations: 71% of air pollution is made of fuel fumes. The most dramatic picture is in Tbilisi where one-third of the entire Georgian population resides, and where 40% of transport movement occurs.
The transport share of Tbilisi air pollution is 95%. However Rezo Getiashvili, Project Coordinator of the Caucasian Environmental Network of Non-Governmental Organizations (CENN), believes the picture most probably is even worse.
“Five air condition supervisory stations operating throughout the country are too few to make a comprehensive picture,” he said to Georgian Journal. “According to the World Health Organization, air pollution cases the death of 3 million people worldwide yearly, and the jeopardy for cancer and allergic diseases does exist in Tbilisi. Therefore the test on technical adjustment is essential …”
The Environment ministry believes making car testing obligatory will reduce air pollution significantly. However, car sector analysts fear that around 50% of Georgian vehicles will not be able to pass the test, and that may put people in this business off the market.
Getiashvili agrees that stopping taxes that affect 200 thousand or more than 20% of all Georgian vehicles is impossible. It may lead to social unrest. He thinks the testing must be implemented step-by-step. But testing alone cannot solve the problem, Getiashvili as well as other environmentalists believe.
There should be stricter control on imported fuel quality. More than that, import of environment-friendly cars should be boosted by the state through a special taxation regime. “Only efforts undertaken in conjunction and not separately may lead to a real result,” Getiashvili said.

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