Rally is over, Rally goes on…
03 March, 2011
Rally is over, Rally goes on…

Rights of mini-bus taxi drivers will be defended by the committee of solidarity. Moreover, another committee, the one for strikes, is being formed to coordinate the protest actions. According to the opposition leaders, despite certain intermediate results, fight for the final victory goes on. The demand of the mini-bus drivers has not changed. They want to cancel the completed tender and revise its results, claiming the tender was not conducted fairly.

The tender of Tbilisi Mayor’s office to identify passenger transportation

companies that would serve the capital, was held last December. Eventually, four companies were named as winners: “TbilKari”, “TbilLine”, “Public Car”, and “Capital Group”. As drivers and political opposition leaders assert, all four companies belong to the brothers Sharangia and their companions, who allegedly are governmental favorites.
Several days ago mini-bus taxi drivers staged another protest rally on the Rose Square. The action comprised several hundred drivers and was attended by the representatives of nearly every opposition force. As a sign of solidarity, the protesters were joined by IDPs with their problems. Before the rally, law enforcers arrested eight mini-bus taxi drivers, accusing them of violating public order.
Christian-Democrat Inga Grigolia demanded their immediate release, while Free Georgia leader Kakha Kukava reminded Egyptian and Tunisian examples to the audience. According to him, from this day on this action belongs not only to drivers - the rally is a solidarity action.
The driver’s action on the Rose Square lasted for one hour. Its participants agreed to set up two committees - one for strikes, the other for solidarity. They will mobilize public and drivers.
According to Koki Ionatamishvili, member of the tender commission, interests of route taxi mini-bus drivers will be respected and all their working places will be preserved.
“The companies, which won the tender are supposed to import new mini-buses starting from October. This process will be over by the end of the next year. In the end, Tbilisi residents shall enjoy secure and comfortable means of transportation,” said Koki Ionatamishvili, leader of the Majority in the capital’s Sakrebulo.
Drivers report that police warned them against participation in the strikes. Law enforcers write down the data on those drivers who disregard their warning. Lasha Chkhartishvili, representative of National Council, says that the police go to all lengths to terrorize the drivers. However, the strike committee steadily grows in strength and is determined to hold a coordinated strike in the nearest days.
Despite almost complete normalization of mini-bus taxi movements in the capital, NGO representatives say a new wave of protests is going to be born. It turns out there is a certain agreement between the drivers and the winner companies but some groups are trying to involve in the nearest future IDPs and other socially insecure people to fight hand in hand with the drivers.

 

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