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The legacy of Tbilisi’s ex-Mayor

By Khatia Kardava
Monday, October 23
On October 21, in the local self-government elections, Tbilisi has elected its new Mayor, former football player and member of Georgian Dream party, Kakha Kaladze.

The pre-election campaign was quite tense,Tbilisi mayoral candidates from opposition parties have unanimously blamed the ruling team for the lack of inactivity during their governance in the capital.

In response to the accusations, Mayor of Tbilisi in 2014-2017, Davit Narmania, claims that there is no unfulfilled promise, except one. This, according to him, is the construction of the Youth Center. As Narmania says, the project already exists, but it could not have been implemented due to lack of funds.

Although, Tbilisi’s ex-Mayor stresses that all promises have been fulfilled, the public opinion about Narmania is mostly negative. According to the study conducted by National Democratic Institute (NDI) in 2015,44% of respondents assessed his activities as average, 36% of respondents evaluated Mayor Narmania’s activities negatively, and only 12% had a positive attitude.

The project on political news and information in Georgia, Fact Checkhas analyzed the promises made by then mayoral candidate of Georgian Dream, Davit Narmania, in the 2014 election program.

One of the objectives of the program was the regulation of transport network. During Narmania’s presence on the post, Tbilisi’s transport network was enriched with 143 new buses. However, effective solutions to traffic jams or further regulation of transport network have not been initiated yet.

One of the projects promised in the 2014 pre-election campaign on transferring the Georgian railway line to the city’s peripheral part has been underway. The new project was presented by the Georgian Railway for confirmation in October, last year.

Many believe that ex-Mayor has fallen short of one of his major promises to arrange new parking lots in different parts of the city. But, according to the City Hall, a project on construction of multi-storey and underground parking is being developed.

Narmania’s pre-election program also underlined that the urban infrastructure for people with disabilities would be adapted to enable them move independently in the city. Despite some changes in this direction, it should be noted that the conditions of people with disabilities have not improved and most of them find it difficult to move freely or visit public institutions in Tbilisi.

Among the fulfilled projects is the shelter for homeless people supported by Tbilisi City Hall. The shelter has been functioning in Lilo settlement, in the outskirts of Tbilisi and offers services for 24 hours since January 1, 2016.

Despite all the above-mentioned projects, the most memorable promises of ex-Mayor Narmania is the project on “Million trees.”

Many residents of Tbilisi remember how Narmania promised to plant one million trees in the city. The issue was continuously questioned by public during his time in power.

According to Fact Check, up to 700,000 trees have been planted in the city since the beginning of the project “Million Trees.”However, it is reported that many of the trees have not survived. As a result, the 2016-2017Tbilisi City Hall plan does not stress the number of trees planted anymore.

Narmania himself believes that he has done important work with regard to planting trees in three years. Talking to TV Company Imedi, Narmania stressed that during his time as Mayor many parks and squares have been restored, roads have been repaired, new kindergartens have been built, implementation of projects New Tiflis and renovation of Tbilisi Auto Park have been launched.

By analyzing a current picture, it could be said that while being on the post of Mayor, Narmania and his team have partly managed to fulfill the pre-election campaign promises. However, the issues that need most attention regarding traffic jams in the city, lack of parking spaces, improved facilities for the disabled and deteriorating ecological condition are still lingering. In fact, on the contrary, Tbilisi Municipal Authority under the leadership of Narmania has been the least effective to solve these vital issues.

It seems that the new Mayor Kakha Kaladze is well aware of Narmania’s heavy legacy. During his pre-election campaign, Kaladze mostly focused on the problems that the city is facing by urging the electorate that his team would be able to solve the issues. Well, time will show, what is certain right now is that over 50% of residents of Tbilisi have pinned hopes on him.