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Georgian President pays visit to storm affected Batumi

By Keti Arjevanidze
Thursday, March 28
Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili visited Batumi after it was damaged by a severe storm recently. Saakashvili with the mayor of Batumi, Jemal Ananidze, visited the coastal boulevard and viewed the existing situation on March 26.

"Batumi's infrastructure and coastline needs help," the president said, worrying that the 50 million Lari project to strengthen the coastline has been suspended.

According to the president, all the technical and economic parameters were prepared. “I personally spoke with the leaders of the Asian Development Bank in order to work on the Batumi coastline’s strengthening to be completed finally,” Saakashvili said, adding that the part that was strengthened in the framework of the project was not damaged by the storm.

Saakashvili excluded the information about the project’s connection with the "Golden Sand" project. He clarified that the project was assumed to be lining the waterfront in an effort to protect from the tide. Saakashvili worried that the project would be looked at as his “latest fad” and the decision was taken to stop the project completely.

The president said that regretfully the project somehow “got lost”.

Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure, Davit Narmania, responded to Saakashvili’s statement, saying that the president was going to spend around 80 million laris on the Golden Sand project. According to the minister, the new government started the modification of the project and the money will be saved.

The minister excluded the threats regarding the touristic season’s failure in Batumi this year, caused by the storm. He said that in the Adjara region, the reconstruction and cleaning work are on and soon will be finished. Narmania also added that the loss may exceed 5 million laris.

“Boulevard infrastructure damage was the result of a natural disaster, but not the poor quality of work,” underlined the minister.

Despite the boulevard, the minister connected the damage that occurred in Gori with the poor quality of work. The roofs of many buildings in Gori were ripped off. According to the minister, the responsibility will be assigned to the companies who built the roofs and buildings previously.

Finance Minister Nodar Khaduri also called on the issue of damaged households by the natural disaster. According to him, the Finance Ministry has three stockpiles (warehouses), which will guarantee wood material for covering the damaged roofs in the Mtskheta municipality. Minister Khaduri promised that they will use only high-quality materials in order to avoid previous experience.

Kakhi Kaladze, the Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, said the work continues actively to overcome the damages received by the natural disaster on March 23. Kaladze emphasized that during the reconstruction work, the aim is to do it with high-quality materials. The minister added that from the other regions the Ministry of Infrastructure and Regional Development receives information about the damages and he, as well as the Infrastructure Minister, Narmania, did not exclude that the loss may grow to around 6 million laris.