Marshutka drivers deeply worried by expense of new regulations
By Salome Modebadze
Friday, June 17The cost of mini-buses (marshutkas) may increase to 80 tetris from July 1st, Tbil-Line representative Davit Asanidze told Rezonansi newspaper on June 16. Discussions about the possible increase have been much talked of in recent times and the new marshutkas, according to Asanidze, will be in the capital from July. Tbil-Line Ltd along with other successful companies won the tender announced by Tbilisi City Hall earlier this spring. According to the memorandum with the Transport Professional Union the winning companies took responsibility of preserving jobs for the drivers and better service provision for Tbilisi residents.
As Asanidze had stressed on March, 2011 Tbil-Line would not have cut the number of drivers but would bring new minibuses to Tbilisi between October 15, 2011 and October 15, 2012. But according to the interview given to Rezonansi Tbil-Line representative had emphasized that none of the current drivers would lose their jobs if they follow Tbil-Line’s directions. “We won’t hire the people to drive a USD 30 000 car with only an ID card,” Asanidze said explaining that the marshutka drivers would have to pay 500 euros as a guarantee. “If a driver violates regulations during his work, the penalty bill would come to my address. Why should I pay others’ fines?” Asanidze stated.
As a matter of a fact all the tender winning companies had been claiming that they would not change the cost of transport until January 2012 and that they would also keep all current drivers. Transport Professional Union as well as Tbilisi City Hall denied any possibilities of leaving the drivers unemployed and promised they would ensure the employment of each driver. According to the preliminary information, the cost of travel will increase due to the introduction of newly insured mini-buses.
Representatives of oppositional factions at Tbilisi City Council said there were neither talks about the necessity for paying the insurance from the companies nor about the increase of the travel fees at the Tender Commission sitting. Worrying that the winning companies have been gradually changing their conditions, MPs encouraged the Mayor’s Office to react to the “rude violations of the terms of the tender.” Mamuka Akhvlediani from the United National Movement faction told The Messenger that the transport-related issue is neither regulated by any norms of the Council nor has it been considered at the forthcoming schedules. The press service of Tbilisi City Hall also denied the information about a possible increase of the cost of transport stressing that they would do their best to keep the balance.
But the drivers claim they had been gathered to learn about the planned changes a few days ago. There are people who can pay the defined amount and keep their jobs but most of the workers cannot afford to pay. “Life is so difficult that I can’t even pay GEL 100... but if I lose my job my family will die of hunger,” one of the drivers worried. The winning companies’ regulations seem to be unacceptable for the drivers. They claimed there were no preliminary talks about the abovementioned conditions from the companies, but as a matter of a fact those who hesitate to sign the contracts, may face immediate unemployment.