The Head of the United National Movement office in Batumi and the former Head of the Batumi City Council, Giorgi Kirtadze, stated: “The Mayor of Batumi was convinced that he would be able to buy new buses for the city, stating specific dates, no later than for the summer of 2016. He also said that everything was arranged with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) as well. If this was not a false pre-election promise, then where are these buses?” Mr Kirtadze also pointed out that he himself checked the information with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and found that the agreement has not yet been signed.
FactCheck took interest in this statement and verified its accuracy.
On air on the talk show, Pirispir, on Ajara TV in November 2015, the Mayor of Batumi, Giorgi Ermakov, promised: “I can guarantee that for the next summer at the latest, maybe even earlier depending on the procedures involved, Batumi will have about 20 new units of adapted public transport which will at the same time be electric.” In the same statement, he also pointed out that the agreement with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development had already been reached.
However, as the Deputy Head of the Financial and Economic Department of Batumi City Hall, Archil Vanadze, stated in response to the criticism from the United National Movement, the Mayor did not state the exact dates on the aforementioned talk show.
In April 2016 the issue of new buses in Batumi once again surfaced in the media as the Director of Batumi Transport Ltd, Paata Dumbadze, stated that the city government was waiting for the decision from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development which would determine whether or not the city would receive the new transport working on electricity or on the so-called Euro 5 diesel. According to his statement, the new vehicles would be adapted for disabled people, equipped with air conditioning and viable both technically as well as financially. In this case, however, a new date was stated for the arrival of the new transport. Mr Dumbadze said that the city would have new buses by the end of the year.
We asked Paata Dumbadze about the progress of the infrastructural work for the new transport and whether or not specially equipped parking places for the electric buses have already been created. He replied with the information that the work has not yet been started with negotiations with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development hitherto only in progress. He refrained from giving us more details as he stated that the negotiation process is confidential.
According to Giorgi Kirtadze, he managed to personally obtain information from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, saying that no negotiations had been ongoing with Batumi City Hall about such issues. In order to verify the accuracy of Mr Kirtadze’s statement, FactCheck contacted the Representation of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in Georgia. We were told that according to the rules of the Bank, they are not allowed to either confirm or deny facts about its negotiations with Batumi City Hall or any conversation with Giorgi Kirtadze.
As Giorgi Kirtadze stated, the Mayor of Batumi promised the city’s population that he would deliver new electric buses in 2016, no later than in summer. According to the information obtained by FactCheck, the first part of Mr Kirtadze’s statement has been verified as during his visit to Ajara TV, the Mayor of Batumi, Giorgi Ermakov, did indeed promise the population that he would deliver about 20 new electric buses to Batumi by the summer of 2016. It is a fact that the transport has not been delivered to date and will likely not be delivered by the end of the year. It is also true that an agreement with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has not yet been reached.
Hence, FactCheck concludes that Giorgi Kirtadze’s statement is TRUE.