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Traffic Congestions or Tax: Will traffic in the center of Tbilisi be paid?

A car traffic in the central streets of Tbilisi may be paid. Avtandil Sudadze, the head of the improvement department of Tbilisi City Hall said on air of Fortuna Radio. In his words, large cities solve the problem of traffic congestions in several ways, including the introduction of paid movement of vehicles on the streets, while in some sections the movement is restricted altogether.

The opposition immediately protested against this initiative. Zaza Vekua, Chairman of the City Assembly faction “Democratic Movement,” says that actions of the authorities are inadequate in the current situation and cannot reduce congestion of streets in Tbilisi.

Other opposition leaders call a hypothetical initiative anti-social and illegal.

“Population already pays a tax for the movement around the city, which comes to the budget and should be spent  on construction of  new roads and bridges, which could relieve vehicular traffic. Instead, the money goes to bonuses and allowances for the purchase of new SUV’s. That’s why there is such an unbearable situation in the city in terms of traffic. Now they want to introduce a fare and get rich at the expense of the population, to fill their pockets and fill up personal bank accounts. Probably, soon a tax on oxygen will be also introduced,” say in the opposition.

In social networks, the official’s  statement also became the subject of harsh criticism, although the situation on the roads in Tbilisi deserves no less criticism as it became particularly acute after the season of vacations and holidays ended. It is obvious that without taking measures, solving the problem only in the hope of consciousness of citizens is impossible. An example of this is a campaign held in social media in June called “Leave the Car at Home,” which had no impact on vehicular traffic in the capital.

The practice of limiting traffic in the central areas of large cities is actively used worldwide. There are several types of fees – some relating to movement in certain hours, while others – operate round the clock in certain areas, there are also restrictions on car numbers – even go one day, odd in another. In Europe, there aren’t virtually large cities, where such a measure is not place – we are also talking about not very rich countries of Eastern Europe, such as Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, restrictions are also imposed in major cities of Russia.

Currently, the Tbilisi City Hall is working on a scheme unloading road traffic in the city, but so far there is no specific plan. The situation has deteriorated after the  June 13 disaster which caused considerable damage to the bypass highway, which could partially unload traffic in the city, although, even then the city has not managed to get rid of the traffic jams.

Now, 3 months after the disaster, traffic on the highway is partly resumed; it is supposed that the road will be fully open in the near future.

However, experts believe that even this does not solve the problem of congestions on the Tbilisi roads – the highway will only partially ease the situation, otherwise, it will be impossible to drive a car in Tbilisi soon. Experts say that any infrastructure projects will help only partially, as the number of cars in the city is increasing every year, despite the economic crisis. Finally, in their opinion, the municipal authorities will have to do the same thing they did in other big and congested cities – to restrict the movement in the central districts.