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International conference highlights Georgia’s road and environment challenges

By Tea Mariamidze
Wednesday, November 1
There are several factors that hinder Georgia from having a safe road system and cleaner air. The most acute issues are faulty road infrastructure, high speed movement, air pollution, old cars and a bad parking system.

An international conference, ‘Recent Situation and Future Vision,’ organized by a non-governmental organization (NGO), the Georgian Alliance for Safe Roads, was focused on existing problems in this field, and its participants discussed ways of transforming Georgia and its capital into a safer and healthier place.

The conference held on October 30 was attended by the Ambassador of Poland to Georgia Mariusz Maszkiewicz, the Ambassador of Switzerland to Georgia Lukas Beglinger, newly-elected Major of Tbilisi Kakha Kaladze, governmental and non-governmental organizations, diplomatic corps and international organization representatives.

International experts came to Georgia to attend the conference. The aim of the visit was to share the experience of Poland and Switzerland in traffic safety sphere, familiarize guests with the recent situation in this regard and listen to recommendations from international experts.

Within the frames of the conference a thematic seminar was conducted on compulsory technical inspection of vehicles, enforcement of legislation, main challenges in relation with safety of the public transport and pedestrians, economic and healthcare aspects.

The participants of the conference positively assessed projects implemented by the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) aimed at improving traffic safety and preventing car accidents.

Deputy Interior Minister Shalva Khutsishvili stated that the MIA has been implementing traffic safety campaign already for two years. He also added that a large-scale social campaign dubbed “For You and Your Safety” was launched, which is directed to prevent car accidents and raise awareness on traffic safety.

“According to the data of 2017, the number of car accidents decreased by 10% in Georgia… I believe that we should keep the same dynamics and continue this way,” he noted.

Khutsishvili told the event participants that within the frames of the mentioned program a number of legislative changes were made with regard to traffic safety.

He also spoke about a new regulation on video penalties, which took effect on November 1. Within the regulation, the so-called smart cameras have started functioning that reveal administrative violations by means of the programs established at the MIA joint operations center.

“Generally, the Ministry’s approach towards this issue is to enable technologies fully administer the traffic movement in bigger cities of the country in three-year perspective, while efforts of the Patrol Police will fully be directed to crime prevention,” stated the Deputy Minister.

Deputy Environment Minister Eka Grigalava talked about ways of improving air quality in Georgia. According to her, traffic emissions are the main problem that pollutes the air. The minister added that there are too many vehicles in Tbilisi and the majority of cars are old, adding this promotes contamination of environment.

“Around 90% of vehicles in Georgia are more than 10 years old and technically faulty. Accordingly, the restoration of the mandatory inspection of vehicles will improve the situation in terms of air pollution,” she said.

The obligatory technical inspection of cars will be introduced from 2018.

The head of the Georgian Alliance for Safe Roads, Eka Laliashvili, stated that the road regulations law, which is being elaborated, should be introduced on time.

“However, only the introduction of regulations will not solve the problem. It is necessary to control and monitor the regulations,” she said, adding that the issue of low-quality fuel is a major threat to air-pollution in Georgia.

At the conference, recommendations on road safety were prepared, which were sent to various ministries and Tbilisi City Hall.