Biased Tender or Expensive Petrol
10 March, 2011
Biased Tender or Expensive Petrol

Opposition predicts protest rallies in the near future

Given the recent events in the Georgian capital, travel fares for mini-bus route taxies (popularly called “Marshrutkas”) are likely to increase by the end of the week. The trend already came true several days ago. Drivers themselves account the fare upsurge for the hiked petrol prices. The Mayor’s Office dissociates itself from the changes.
Heads of the tender winner companies say that the fare upsurge is tagged to the increasing fuel prices,

not the processes that have recently unfolded in the transportation sphere of the capital. According to the opposition, these four winners of the recently held tender are linked to the government. By the way, Tinatin Khidasheli, one of the leaders of the Republican Party, shed light on the documents which reveal that all four companies were registered on the same day with a few minutes’ interval.
During the drivers’ general strike and protest rallies, the transportation service of the Mayor’s Office used to assert that fares would not be increased. Representatives of Sakrebulo’s opposition parties state that it is the continuation of the process which started before the drivers’ strike. Most of the opposition insist that increase of city transport fares will intensify protest feelings among the general population and lead to the collapse of transportation system because people cannot afford travel by mini-buses anymore.
Drivers of ‘marshrutkas’ with raised fares claim they have long routes and cannot survive the growing fuel prices without the increase of fares. Yet, some of them also point to the tender winners. They do not rule out that tomorrow others would follow their example because the winner companies do not leave them other option.
“The route micro-bus taxi tender is directly serving financial interests of a certain group and the whole of Authorities. Neither we, nor the public will forgive them that,” – these are stances of opposition political parties. They are sure that the fare upsurge is also a test of the sort to see how people would get accustomed to the painful choice.
Interestingly, the transportation fares rose in the regions as well. In Eastern Georgia, Kakheti Information Center informs that Kakheti routes heading for Tbilisi increased by one Lari. Drivers of those routes are likewise blaming the rocketing fuel prices.
Davit Asanidze, Director of Tbilline Company openly admits that in the future other routes will also undergo increase of travel fares.
“I have never said that fares would not grow. How do you curb them with such prices? Drivers cannot pay for fuel from their pockets, can they? If I tell them not to raise fares, won’t they ask me to give them free petrol instead? Other routes may well be in for similar fare hikes. I cannot interfere to make the fares drop or fly. The drivers who raised fares have longest routes. There was no agreement with us but we cannot pressure them regarding fares.
“These are either amateurs or swindlers because it is impossible to do things with 50 Tetri as the winner companies have promised. This rate will throw them into an absolute minus. That is why they are raising fares. But they are raising them only on several routes so that people get used to higher transportation expenses. Was not it the reason of our rallies? They were crossing their hearts that fares would not grow. Yet, here it goes – the first prediction came true as the fares topped 70 Tetri. After people accept it as the order of the day, the next thing they would kick off is another hike. That’s what they are aiming at.”
Meanwhile, the opposition representatives say the near future will evidence the new protest wave in the capital engulfing the regions.

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