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Marshutka price set to rise steeply in Tbilisi

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, February 25
Drivers of mini buses, owners of marshutka lines and certain opposition factions are protesting against the tender held by the Tbilisi Mayor’s office several weeks ago- statements regarding the issue were made by Tbilisi city hall's oppositional representative, Kakha Kukava, on February 24. As he has mentioned, the winning companies do not intend to bring new mini buses to the country and that they are mainly oriented on increasing the transport fee.

"We have got information from the drivers and the owners of marshutka lines that the winning companies are not going to bring new mini buses from abroad. On the contrary, they are planning to sign a memorandum with the current owners of mini buses and increase the fee for the service," Kukava stated, before outlining the details, "from March 1, the winning companies are going to set a GEL 20-40 daily fee on each mini bus." As the driver of # 11 mini bus line, Mindia Makharadze mentioned, "Before the tender we had to pay GEL 7-10 daily." At the same time, Kukava appealed to Tbilisi city hall to discuss the issue as soon as possible. He also stated that the results of the tender must be abolished and an investigation should be launched; Until this happens the drivers and opposition members are going to protest the issue on Rose square.

The winning companies will sign an official memorandum with Tbilisi Mayoral, on March 1. Concerning the possible increase of price they responded in vague fashion, "if the price on oil is increased it would be reflected in the Marshutka price. However, at the present moment, I can not make a definite comment, as firstly we should sign the memorandum with Tbilisi Mayoral, then we will meet with the drivers, listen to them and only after this will we make a decision, "representative of winning Tbil- Line, Davit Asanidze, said.

From March, the daily fee of drivers' increases and the service fee will also rise as a result- Head of the Transport Professional Unions, Lavrenti Alania said in his interview with Rezonansi, "until now, drivers had to pay less for petrol and, accordingly, the transport fee was low. The new winner companies should represent their contracts, there would be different plans. At the same time, those new mini buses, which would be introduced to the country, are equipped with conditioners and need 20% more petrol than current ones.. Based on this, I suppose that the fee for mini bus service would increase by nearly 20 Tetri."

Statements that the winning companies would not rise the transport price, were made several times by the Tbilisi Mayoral representation, however it has also been mentioned that such decisions will be made by the winning companies and Tbilisi Mayoral will have no right to be involved in this.

Tbil-Line Ltd., Capital Group Ltd, Tbil-car Ltd and Public–car Ltd are the four successful companies, which won the tender several weeks ago. They are obliged to bring new minibuses to Tbilisi between October 15, 2011 and October 15, 2012. A memorandum between the companies and the Transport Professional Union has already been signed. The main points of the memorandum are preserving jobs for drivers and better service provision for Tbilisi residents.