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Millions of dollars thrown into the water

11.08.2010

Inga Gvasalia, Samegrelo

27 million dollars are spent on the 24 hour constant water supply of Poti. President Saakashvili congratulated the whole country with “constant water” in the live broadcasting of several television channels and symbolically turned on a tap in one of the houses in Poti. As it was found out later, the water was streaming down from the reservoir located at the roof of the house. The Poti population is most deceived; after two years from this remarkable day the water is supplied only for a couple of hours, every second day and by the way, for the most expensive price compared to all other regions of Georgia.

Nobody gives a determined answer to the question whether or not Poti population will have water soon. The promises and the rehabilitation works are on-going. “Asia Development Bank” and other international finance organizations provided grants for the completion of the project. The rehabilitation of the city internal system has started and 12 million laris will be spent on it. How productive will be the works costing millions of lari and will the city have its own water? These questions will be answered after the construction works are completed.

Where did the millions of laris disappeared?

The work on the “24 hour water supply project” started in 2007. The term for completion of works was said to be a year and 8 months. The entire cost of the project was said to be 27 million lari: 8.85 million lari were provided by the fund “Millenium Challenge – Georgia” (MCG), and 8.8 million lari by the Sweden International Development Agency (SIDA). Georgian government provided 1.55 million lari, and Poti local budget provided 2.57 million lari. Besides, with the guarantee of Poti local government, EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development) provided a loan of 5.5 million lari.

According to the assistant of the head of the United Water Supply of Georgia, the project was divided to three different phases. Two pump stations have been rehabilitated so far. The replacement of a 7- kilometer pipe is planned for the end of this year. It will ensure the constant water supply for the population. The rehabilitation of the canalization system and the special buildings for water filtering is planned.

The agreement between “Poti Wyalkanali” and the “Municipal Development Fund of Georgia” was signed on September 15, 2006, according to which the responsibility for the quality of project implementation was imposed on the fund.

Years have passed now and nothing has changed for the population. The drinking water is provided every second day, for about three or four hours. As they say, the reason is the old water pipes which are damaged and can’t endure the pressure of water. It seems like some experiment has been carried out. The project authors thought that the old pipes would endure the water pressure, but the experiment failed and the water destroyed the pipes. The specialists talked about the mistakes made in the project implementation works that damaged the quality of the water. Right when it rains, the puddle and unpleasant smelling and tasting water transfers from the Grouli main building.

The project regarded the safe and proper water supply. Contrary to this, the illnesses caused by the polluted water are prevailing in Poti.

The unprecedented verdict

The failure of the century’s project cost much for the former head of the “Wyalkanali” Valodia Mskhiladze and the main engineer Gela Modebadze. They were detained with the conviction of unpurposeful use and defalcation of the state money. Though, the detainees had no connection with the project’s financial-banking balances, Mskhiladze, as a service supervisor and one responsible for its work, was obligated to evaluate the quality of the fulfilled works.

According to the same agreement, the “Fund of Municipal Development of Georgia” was responsible for the fulfilled work and provided money. Numerous questions were raised regarding this fact in the society. Why just the directors of “Poti Wyalkanali” were made responsible, when the one responsible for the project implementation was the municipal development fund? It seems like the detained were not really guilty and were used to cover someone else’s crime. The verdict was unprecedented – according to the conviction, prosecutor was asking for 56 year prison sentence. The court didn’t satisfy this request but still passed the severe sentence – 30-30 years prison sentence for Mskhiladze and his assistant

Were the tender conditions met?

Paata Iakobashvili, the head of the technical department of municipal development fund: “We did all that was planned and foreseen by the agreement. Obtaining-yielding processes are all registered. The 45 kilometer main road has been built for the natural transfer of water from Martvili Grouli springs to Nabada area. Despite the fact that much has been done and the pipes have been changed, unfortunately, there are many problems in Poti. Many pipes need to be changed. Certain works need to be implemented and they will improve the water supply process for the population.
Though, some of the pipes have been replaced, there are still some damaged ones left needing replacement.”

According to the explanation of Iakobashvili, 27 million lari provided for the project were not sufficient for the full rehabilitation of the water system: “We need extra measures for 24 hour water supply. We did our best with this money. We did it thoroughly well. But the problem is the things that were not foreseen by the project. Therefore, this money was not sufficient for the full rehabilitation of the system. The rehabilitation of other structures is planned, that will maximally diminish the loss. This was the main reason for the imperfect water supply and the incompleteness of the project. From now on, the implemented works will enable us to improve water supply in Poti. The rehabilitation of Nosiri main department is planned.”

At one time, the “Municipal Development Fund” announced a tender on the construction works. Several companies were selected to perform different kinds of works. LLC “Peri” performed the Grouli works from Martvili to Nosiri, LLC “Remsheni” worked on the providing the numerators, and the LLC “Wyalkanalmsheni” implemented the internal rehabilitation works in the main road of Nosiri-Poti. At the 71st street of the city, 38 kilometer construction has been replaced. This company finished works earlier than the term date required. Though, there are numerous convictions addressed against them. Basically, the population was dissatisfied by the bad quality of the pipes. Some suppose that the company used old pipes.

Iakobashvili categorically denies that the system was rehabilated with the old pipes: “This can’t be considered. It’s a lie that the used pipes were used. First of all, the system is entirely projected with the polyethylene pipes. It’s unrealistic that some polyethylene pipes were cut out from somewhere and put somewhere else. The population will always have some reproofs considering that despite the promises, they don’t have water constantly.”

Iakobashvili is assuring that the project is strictly controlled by them, that the monitoring group works systematically. Though, we don’t know if there is any conclusion report prepared by the. “Of course, the monitoring is conducted both by our organization and the representatives of the “millennium.” There is no basis for doubting,” – says Iakobashvili. The monitoring is conducted by the former group created in the former Sakrebulo as well, but they didn’t write any conclusion report either.

The Risen Prices and Worsened Water Supply

The rehabilitation works on the internal system are continuing. The water pipes were replaced in couple of multistory buildings, but soon the water doesn’t reach the upper floors of the nine storey apartment buildings.

“Before the pipes of the drinking water were replaced, the water reached the ninth floor. But now, often, the water doesn’t reach the floor and I’m obligated to carry water from the ground floor,” – one of the residents said.

This means that millions of money were “thrown into the water,” since the full rehabilitation of the system has not been managed yet. As we noted, the extra money is provided for the constant water supply of Poti.

As for the price of the water – according to the Sakrebulo resolution, it should have been increased only in case of full implementation of the project, but Sakrebulo managed to raise the water prices “without water” really well.


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