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Gigi Ugulava's private vehicle fleet2013-01-31 19:08
The minibus drivers, dissatisfied with the daily tax and fare increase, are holding strike in Tbilisi for almost a week. Until their demands are met, they refuse to work. Not only passengers suffer from this, but also pockets of Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava and his entourage, which, according to GTimes, receive from the operation of minibuses up to 150,000 lari a day.
Tbilisi is almost paralyzed for the sixth day. Crowds are standing at bus stops for hours waiting for public transport. City buses cannot cope with the number of passengers. Drivers of minibuses, who are serving Tbilisi residents along with municipal buses, have arranged a mass strike. They have thrice gathered outside the City Hall with a demand to cut taxes, reduce fares and allow them to switch on radio in the cabin, which was banned by the municipality last year.
There have already started appearing leaders of the strike. For example, a permanent participant of all the meetings from the Conservative Party Lasha Chkhartishvili is actively protecting the rights of drivers. "This all is the work of the Tbilisi City Hall", he says. City Hall has made working conditions of the drivers unbearable and raised the fare price.
Here is what Zaza Zaridze, one of the drivers, told us: "At first we were told that we have to pay 20 GEL daily, then they raised the plan to 30, and later to 40. I'm already missing my patience. And then, finally, they raised fares. And the people have no money. We have to repair the minibuses ourselves if it gets broken. We declare that we will not stop the strike until our demands are met, and the mayor's office after 6 days responds that they won't agree to any concessions and will soon announce a tender, so they will hire new drivers".
The situation seems to be strained to the limit. The confrontation between the Tbilisi City Hall and taxi drivers lasts almost a week.
The story of yellow minibuses in Tbilisi is entirely new. Just two years ago Tbilisi City Hall announced a tender for their introduction in the capital. Tender was won by the "Capital Group", "Tbil-Car", "Fablik-Car" and "Tbil-Online". At the time the tender caused great rumors. It was assumed that Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava stood behind these companies. Soon the doubts proved to be correct. All the four companies immediately merged and received the common name "Tbilisi Minibuses".
Once the yellow minibuses had appeared in Tbilisi the fares were immediately artificially increased, which became a large burden on the needy populations. People still believe that the fare is a source of enrichment of senior employees of City Hall. In fact, there is another hidden mechanism. We talked to the head of the NGO Robert Iantvelidze about this.