Waiting For New Tender
17 March, 2011

The route mini-bus taxi tender held some time ago in the Georgian capital will possibly be replicated in Rustavi (Kvemo Kartli). The matter concerns Tbilisi-Rustavi route mini-buses.
This move gave birth to opposing views among the representatives of transport and road worker unions and opposition. According to the amendment to the Law on Automobile Transport, organization and management of regular automobile and passenger transportation among socially inter-connected, adjacent self-governed towns separated by less than 50km distance and high passenger streams must be done on the basis of the agreements concluded between local self-governance bodies of said towns.
As the self-governance committee explains, this amendment applies to Rustavi and Tbilisi. There are only these two cities in the country meeting the criteria set forth by the law. The committee notes that currently the traffic between these two cities is simply chaotic and thus requires regulation.
As the reader may remember, Tbilisi mayor’s office launched a tender last December for passenger transportation companies. The winners were TbilKari, TbilLine, PublicCar and Capital Group. As the drivers and political opposition leaders claim, all four companies are the Governmental proxies belonging to businessmen Sharangia brothers and their cronies. These companies are supposed to import new route mini-bus taxis from October till the beginning of next year.
Tina Khidasheli, one of the leaders of the Republican Party, asserts that the said four companies actually are run by a single management. She produced evidence indicating that all four companies were registered on one day, only within the difference of few minutes.
Some specialists say they will always protest against any legislation that fits only specific entities. Just like Rustavi connects with Tbilisi, so do Kutaisi, Sighnaghi, Ambrolauri and others. So, no law has to be written for Tbilisi and Rustavi solely.
“This method proposed by the lawmakers cannot stand up to any criticism. Huge masses of population move between Tbilisi and Rustavi. Lately, the transport fare has been raised several times. Yet, the business seems to be so lucrative that the mayor of the Georgian capital and his crony businessmen intend to grab it. Local Kvemo Kartli authorities may be also in it,” – point out the representatives of the opposition parties who are quite active regarding the problem of recent route mini-bus taxi tender.
For instance, Gia Tsagareishvili fears that the same thing could happen with the Tbilisi-Rustavi route as it did in the case of the routes in the capital. Moreover, similar plans are in the offing for ordinary taxies too.
“By the way, behind the doors they talk about using the similar approach towards usual taxies. So far these undercurrents remain obscure but there is no smoke without fire. Eventually, several week-old companies will enter the taxi business too. In short, the Authorities are moving to grab this business as well.”
There is another problem related to the safety of transportation. Apart from the interests of drivers who demand to keep them employed, the interests of passengers must be considered too.
Representatives of Administration have the following attitude on the matter: “In the wake of Tbilisi tender, no driver was and will not be left without a job. Regarding Tbilisi-Rustavi inter-city travel, it is so far not clear how many routes should be launched. We will know whether a driver will remain on the job after this issue is solved. There are numerous routes set up without authorization. The fate of these routes and other issues such as tender conditions need to be sorted out via public scrutiny.
“The tender has not been held since 2000, and auto-stations and routes have been appointed on the basis of friendship.”