Tbilisi Mayor Vows Fight Against Air Pollution
By Vladimer Napetvaridze
Thursday, June 28
On May 27, Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze held a special briefing to discuss the ongoing processes. One of the main topics of the mayor’s report was air pollution problem in the capital city. Kaladze stated that during the following years the municipality has to take thorough and effective decisions regarding transport policy and environmental protection.
The Mayor expressed hope that the public will be supportive as the City Hall has to make unpopular steps that will be vital for every citizen and future generations:
"You know that beginning July testing of vehicles owned by the state will be carried out. This is the first step, which is very important for reducing air pollution, so I would like to address the relevant structural units of the City Hall to inspect all vehicles owned by the City Hall and remove those cars that will fail the test. I spoke about this initiative with Mr. Prime Minister and he agreed that other governmental structures will inspect their vehicles too. Of course, it will not be enough to solve the air pollution problem, but we should be an example for others. We should reduce the number of damaged vehicles. As for the other steps, in the nearest future, we will present a detailed action plan,” Kaladze stated.
Recent studies show that atmospheric air in Georgia’s capital is critically polluted.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Tbilisi is among the most polluted cities. On average, every 10 people breathe air polluted with 9 toxic substances and solid waste. With the increase in the number of cars and constructions in Tbilisi, the green zones are reducing.
The public transport system is not sufficiently developed, therefore, a significant proportion of the population uses private vehicles. As a result, the number of private vehicles has grown rapidly over the past decade and has almost doubled in the last five years- there are approximately 500 000 cars in Tbilisi.
Most of the cars purchased are so called “second-hand” cars imported from abroad and the average age of the fleet in Georgia is 10-15 years. Diesel engine cars are very popular.
Most of the cars registered in Tbilisi are missing the catalytic converters, which is an exhaust emission control device that converts toxic gases and pollutants in exhaust gas from an internal combustion engine into less-toxic pollutants. Due to the external location and the use of valuable precious metals including platinum, palladium, rhodium, and gold, catalytic converters are often removed from the cars. Another problem with this part of vehicles is some low-quality fuels available on the market, which can cause damage to the catalytic converters of vehicle exhausts. Car owners tend to have the damaged catalytic converters removed and not replaced, resulting in higher emissions from the vehicle.
Traffic management is still problematic in the cities of Georgia and traffic jams are frequent. As the Mayor noted, in the nearest future, he will present more detailed action plan to solve the problem of air pollution, which was one of the main promises of Kaladze's pre-election period.