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Verdict: Kakha Kaladze’s promise WAS NOT FULFILLED.
Resume: In January 2018, Mayor of Tbilisi, Kakha Kaladze, whilst announcing the launch of the construction of the Tsintsadze (former Saburtalo Street) – Kartozia connecting overpass, stated that not a single tree would be cut down. Later on, when the overpass construction work was in progress, the Mayor’s rhetoric changed and he promised that he would spare no effort to transplant the trees from the territory although trees which would not be transplanted would be cut down.
Of note is that the explanatory letter for the overpass project clearly stated that trees and bushes on the territory of the overpass would be cut down during construction. Therefore, the project envisioned cutting the trees on the territory and, supposedly, Tbilisi’s Mayor was aware of this.
In accordance with the information of Tbilisi City Hall’s Environmental Protection Service, permits to cut down 95 trees were issued as part of the Tsintsadze-Kartozia overpass construction project. However, as a result of corrections made to the project, a total of 45 trees were cut. As stated by Tbilisi City Hall, in exchange for the cut trees, 140 new trees will be planted over time. In addition, 125 trees have been transplanted in the process of the overpass construction.
Mayor of Tbilisi, Kakha Kaladze, announced the construction of the Tsintsadze-Kartozia connecting overpass as early as 23 January 2018 and stated: “We are aware that traffic jams are one the biggest problems of this city. This requires a complex approach and the solution of complex problems. Therefore, the Tsintsadze-Kartozia project, which we are carrying out, is important. In regard to the trees there, not a single tree will be cut down and every tree will be transplanted.”
Tbilisi City Hall announced a tender (NAT 180000885) for the construction of the overpass at the Tsintsadze-Kartozia Streets intersection on 17 January 2018. Only two competitors took part in the tender and the winner was Construction Service LTD. On 1 March 2018, a contract was signed between the Construction Service LTD and Tbilisi City Hall.
The total value of the contract was set at GEL 2,699,049 and 150 working days were allocated for the completion of the construction work (the work should be completed by 1 August 2018).
An explanatory note to the Tsintsadze-Kartozia connecting overpass project reads: “The transport knot at the intersection of Tsintsadze and Kartozia Streets in Tbilisi cannot ensure the movement of vehicles without hindrances because of conflicting junctures. As a result, opening this transport knot at two levels has become a necessity. In turn, this envisions the movement of transport from Tsintsadze Street to Tamarashvili Street by means of an overpass without having conflicting junctures.”
In accordance with the explanatory note, the total length of the road, including the overpass, will be 245 metres. Of this length, the entry ramp is 88 metres, the overpass 26 metres and the exit ramp is 131 metres.
The explanatory note to the project also reads that trees and bushes on the territory will be cut down during the process of the construction of the overpass.
Tbilisi City Hall launched preparatory work for the construction of the Tsintsadze-Kartozia connecting overpass in April 2018. Mayor of Tbilisi, Kakha Kaladze, visited the venue to inspect the ongoing work and stated that these kinds of infrastructural projects are very important for alleviating the problems of traffic jams in Tbilisi. During the visit, Mr Kaladze was less categorical in regard to cutting down the trees on the territory, stating: “We will do everything to transplant the trees from this territory. We have the necessary equipment for this. In addition, those trees which will not be transplanted will be cut down.” He added, however, that an additional 140 trees would be newly planted on the territory as a part of a greening project.
In accordance with the information of Tbilisi City Hall’s Environmental Protection Service, permits to cut down 95 trees were issued. However, after corrections to the project, only 45 trees were cut down. In addition, a respective permit was issued for transplanting 125 trees and 111 oleander bushes.
On 10 April 2018, Tbilisi City Hall announced a tender (NAT180005614) to plant saplings on the territory between Tsintsadze and Kartozia Streets. The estimated value of the purchase was GEL 75,263. Green Service LTD won the tender. The value of the contract signed on 5 May 2018 was determined to be GEL 60,193. In accordance with the conditions of the contract, Green Service LTD is obliged to plant 140 trees (Himalayan Cedar, Weeping Willow and Pseudo Acacia) over a period ending in May 2019. The height of the planted trees should be no less than three meters with the contractor also having to take care of the newly planted trees. The price for the planted trees fluctuates within the margin of GEL 290-385 each.
FactCheck will continue to monitor the tree planting process alongside the Tsintsadze-Kartozia connecting overpass and provide updated information for our readers.
Of additional note is that the Tsintsadze-Kartozia overpass construction project also existed under Davit Narmania’s tenure as Tbilisi’s Mayor. However, Tbilisi City Hall decided to refrain from cutting the trees on the territory which was the reason for halting the construction.