Tuesday, 29 October 2019 13:02

Building up infrastructure to make Georgia a transport and economic hub, Maya Tskitishvili

Caspian Energy (CE): In the next few years, several billions of dollars are planned to be spent on infrastructure development in Georgia. What are the priorities of the ministry?  
Maya Tskitishvili, Vice-Prime Minister, Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia: All areas are equally important for a healthy development of the country. As far as specific areas of activity are concerned, it is construction and rehabilitation of roads, water supply systems, setting operation of sewage systems and construction of purification facilities, introduction of solid waste management systems, construction and operation of landfills in accordance with modern methodologies. It is also important to carry out restoration and rehabilitation of cultural heritage monuments, construction and maintenance of adjacent tourist infrastructure, as well as rehabilitation-construction of social facilities such as kindergartens, sports complexes, playgrounds, houses of culture, folklore centers and museums. Besides, alternative urban transport networks, improvement of living conditions of the population in the regions and other activities are also of significance.
The list is very large and all these areas are equally important for the growth of opportunities in the regions, the return of people to villages, the promotion of small and large businesses, the reduction of the harmful impact on the environment, the development of tourism and in general, for the progress of the economy.
CE: In recent years, domestic and foreign investments have been heavily invested in various sectors of the economy and infrastructure of Georgia. What is the demand for investments and which sectors are in need of investments?
Maya Tskitishvili: Bulk of domestic and foreign investments is spent on construction and rehabilitation of roads. Georgia’s East-West highway, starting from the Red Bridge to Sarfi, is being developed and enlarged on an annual basis, so is the North-South corridor. This highway is a part of the so-called “Silk Road” and represents the main transit hub between China and Europe-Asia. The main objective of the highway modernization program is to provide adequate road infrastructure to increase transit traffic, which is a significant and growing factor contributing to the growth of GDP.
The East-West highway and the North-South Corridor is the shortest route between Europe, Azerbaijan and the Central Asia countries through its Black Sea ports - Poti and Batumi. It also links Russia and Turkey. The geographical position allows it to become a main transportation hub between the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea and Central Asia.
The East-West highway construction project is aimed at improving the transportation and transit of goods to neighboring countries. The project will improve road safety, reduce transport costs and will contribute to the growth of transit traffic.

CE: Georgia is preparing to host the next Silk Road forum. Which issues will be considered this year? Which initiatives will official Tbilisi launch this year?
Maya Tskitishvili: The government is actively involved in full unlocking of the transit potential of the country. We are jointly considering the possibilities of much broader development of these areas. We work closely with China and the European Union. Proof of that is also the free trade agreement.
Along with this, Georgia has already hosted the Silk Road Forum twice, in 2015 and 2017, which caused great international interest.
In comparison with the maritime transport, transportation time by the Trans-Asian-Caucasian train takes 5 times less time. In particular, if earlier it took 40-45 days to carry out shipments by sea, now cargo reaches Georgia from China in just 9-14 days. It means that the Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey direction is the shortest transport route connecting Europe and Asia, and, based on the geographical location, it is the biggest resource of Georgia’s economic progress. Our task is to create an infrastructure that will ensure the country’s transformation into a transport and economic hub.

CE: Could you please tell about the implementation timeframe of the water supply project in areas densely populated by the Azerbaijanis. Which new infrastructure projects will be implemented in these areas in the coming years?
Maya Tskitishvili:  The United Water Supply Company of Georgia is implementing a project on construction of water supply and sewage systems in Marneuli and Bolnisi. After the project is completed, the city of Marneuli and villages of the municipality with the total population of up to 35,200 people will have a stable and improved water supply.
Besides, it is planned to build a purification facility in Marneuli. Built within the framework of the project will be a waste treatment facility meeting modern standards. It will clean waste waters within the framework of the full biological cycle and reduce an adverse environmental impact.
CE: Which infrastructure projects will be implemented in Georgia in the coming years to attract foreign investments into the country?
Maya Tskitishvili: Tourism development is one of the priorities of the Georgian government. The Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia intends to spend more than $52 million on the development of tourism infrastructure, including the areas located on the border with Azerbaijan. For this purpose, it is planned to put infrastructure and transport in order, as well as retrain service workers.
14 projects worth of about $34million were implemented in this area in 2018. Restoration of the German church built in the 19th century and residential houses located at Shvabov Street will be completed in Asureti village (Kvemo Kartli region) in 2019. Besides, some improvement work will be carried out in the cemetery. Improvement work at botanic garden in Zugdidi city, theatre renovation in high mountain Mestia and construction of the archeological museum in Vani will be completed soon. Reconstruction of the old theatre building in Mskheta city, near Tbilisi, into a museum is planned as well.
Apart from this, restoration of historical buildings and an observatory at Abastumani resort (Samtskhe-Javakheti region) has begun. The work over the general plan of this high-mountain village is carried out too. The Georgian authorities plan to restore a cable road built in 1982 and open a center of visitors.
The Ministry of Regional Development chose five places in Khaheti for building observation sites. 10 more such tourism places will appear in future. Young architects have been assigned to develop designs of observation sites. The best project will be chosen by means of a contest.
A particular attention will be paid to a high mountain Bakuriani village in 2019… The development of the tourism infrastructure is playing a big role in sustainable economic development of regions, as revenues gained from tourism remain in the region.

Thank you for the interview

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