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A plenary session of the Georgian Parliament was held on 5 February 2014 where Giorgi Vashadze, a representative of the Minority, focused upon the ongoing work on the East-West high-speed highway. He stated the following:  “In one year, Davit Narmania barely managed to pave 700 metres of the East-West highway.”

Zurab Japaridze verified this statement by the MP. According to him:  “Two kilometres of the highway are paved.”

FactCheck

took interest in the accuracy of these statements by the two MPs and verified the details.

The construction of the high-speed highway (Tbilisi-Senaki-Leselidze) started in 2006. It consists of the E-60 (Poti-Tbilisi-Red Bridge) and E-70 (Poti-Batumi-Sarpi) highways. The length of the high-speed highway is approximately 390 kilometres. As of 1 January 2014, 100.8 kilometres of the high-speed highway have been paved and traffic is open on 86.4 kilometres. The highway is a high-speed roadway which has several traffic lanes on both sides and a dividing line in the centre. It does not have sharp turns or steep ascents and there are no intersections or entrance roads. It is possible to cover a long distance of the highway without having to make any stops. The highway system is also important in that it connects large cities in other countries to each other.

FactCheck

contacted the Department of Highways of Georgia regarding the work implemented on the highway. We requested information about the high-speed highway’s budget for 2013, the construction work and the length of the paved road surface.

According to the information received from the Department of Highways of Georgia, the high-speed highway’s construction budget was equal to GEL 286,020,250. Of this amount, GEL 267,384,633.03 was spent which amounts to 93.48% of the entire budget. The construction work was ongoing on 111 kilometres in 2013 which is 34 kilometres more than the activities in the previous year (the construction work was ongoing on 77 kilometres of the high-speed highway in 2012). According to the Ministry of Infrastructure and Regional Development, 28.1 kilometres of the roadway were paved; in particular:  Ruisi-Agara – 3 kilometres, Kobuleti bypass road – 12.4 kilometres, Kutaisi bypass road – 6.2 kilometres and Kutaisi-Samtredia – 6.5 kilometres. The traffic is open on 12.4 kilometres of the new Kobuleti bypass road and a 3-kilometre long section of the Ruisi-Agara road. In 2013, traffic was open on 15.4 kilometres of the high-speed highway in total which is 13.9 kilometres more than the figure from the previous year (traffic was open on only 1.5 kilometres of the high-speed highway in 2012; in particular, on the Liakhvi overpass).

In order to study the work on the high-speed highway in more details, FactCheck

also reviewed the statistical report of the first six months of 2013 produced by the Department of Highways of Georgia.

According to the report, construction work was planned on 111 kilometres of the high-speed highway in 2013 which was verified by the response received from the Department of Highways. Traffic was supposed to open on 51.7 kilometres of the high-speed highway; in particular, on 8 kilometres of the Ruisi-Agara road, 14 kilometres of the Kutaisi-Samtredia road, 17.3 kilometres of the Kutaisi bypass road and 12.4 kilometres of the Kobuleti bypass road. According to the information in the report, traffic was open on 15.4 kilometres of the high-speed highway in 2013 based upon the work plan (specifically, 3 kilometres of the Ruisi-Agara road and 12.4 kilometres of the Kobuleti bypass road). As we can see, there is an inconsistency between the Department of Highway’s report and the official information received from the Department of Highways as concerns the first six months of 2013.

FactCheck

contacted Rusudan Khubulava, Head of the PR Unit at the Department of Highways, regarding this inconsistency. According to her, the opening of traffic on 52 kilometres of the high-speed highway was the potential length of the opening and not an obligation to be opened (the ‘potential’ is the amount of kilometres to be paved and then opened to traffic if weather conditions are favourable). Khubulava indicated that the spring and summer, the main seasons for road work, experienced a great deal of rain in 2013 which halted construction work. She added that the contractor company and the client are focused upon the quality of the work and this was affected by the rainy weather.

FactCheck

published an article about the work on the high-speed highway on 18 November 2013 in which the author included a comment made by Bezhan Minjoraia, Head of the Development and Modernisation of Reconstruction Unit at the Department of Highways of Georgia. Minjoraia stated that by the time the main work on the high-speed highway had been implemented, seasonal restrictions did not impede the completion of the work.

In order to get the complete picture of the work implemented on the high-speed highway, FactCheck

also requested the statistics about the work on the highway in the period of 2009-2011 from the Department of Highways which is illustrated below in the table:

Budget (GEL) Construction Activity Paved Road Surface Open to Traffic
2009 172,367,360 37 km 15.2 km 15.2. km
2010 134,147,220 40 km 6 km 6 km
2011 236,940,300 30 km 11.8 km 11.8 km
2012 212,985,000 77 km 1.5 km 1.5 km
2013 286,020,250 111 km 28.1 km 15.4 km

As seen in the information presented above, most of the work on the high-speed highway was implemented in 2013.

Conclusion

Construction work on the high-speed highway was underway on 111 kilometres of roadway in 2013, 28.1 kilometres of road surface were paved and 15.4 kilometres were opened to traffic. In particular, traffic was open on a 3-kilometre section of the Ruisi-Agara road and a 12.4-kilometre section of the Kobuleti bypass road. The work implemented on the high-speed highway in 2013 exceeds the work implemented in the previous years in all components.

Of note is that the work plan for 2013 was not ultimately implemented owing to several reasons. The Department of Highways of Georgia’s report about the first six months of 2013 indicated that traffic was to have been open on 52 kilometres of the high-speed highway in 2013 but, in fact, it was open on a 15.4-kilometer section. The Department explained to FactCheck

that this was not an obligation but only a potential for opening. Such a significant difference among the data, however, still calls into question the rapid pace of the work.

Based upon the aforementioned facts, FactCheck concludes that Giorgi Vashadze’s statement, “In one year, Davit Narmania barely managed to pave 700 meters of the East-West highway,” is FALSE.