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Future of Kobuleti “Wandering” Rubbish Dump Is Still Obscure

If you ask Kobuleti dweller where the rubbish dump is s/he will tell you at least two addresses. In this town the dump changes its place once a year, but sometimes even once in a month.

Twenty-five-year-old history of the “wandering” rubbish dump started in the surrounding area of former airport in Kobuleti.

We started our trip from the final bus stop at Rustaveli Street towards the Ispani District together with our local guide who asked to keep his name anonymous. “I am ashamed if people read about me, I am very poor. Just have a look at it, it is all I have earned today,” he showed nearly one kilo of onion and some sugar. He was holding the “food” in one hand and in the other hand he had scrap-iron; he had collected them in the ruins. ”I am collecting the iron to earn a little money.”

There is dust on the narrow road. The guide is happy that “his” road is being repaired. The swampy road is filled with stones. “The area is lowering because of swamp,’ he explained.

We had hardly walked one hundred meters when I noticed a heap of garbage close to the road. My companion told me that the rubbish was delivered there several months ago. “The main rubbish dump is a bit farther.” From that point I had to continue my way alone because the man entered his house and wife met him with complaints. I hear her saying “Why did not you buy…?”

I passed by nearly ten houses and finally saw the dump. The terrible smell is getting stronger and stronger…

The rubbish is in once-storied building. A cow standing in the middle of the rubbish is eating plastic bag. Sveta, a girl of twenty, is doing something in the yard. Having acquainted with her she invited me to coffee. However, it is too dangerous to drink something in such a mess.

Last year, fourteen-year-old Vova died as a result of landmine explosion on the dump while he was collecting scrap-iron. We later found out that Sveta was sister of the dead boy.

“The life of my son finished here…but we earned our living from this dump. Now I have lost that source, what shall we do? We were gathering bottles and iron things there and had least sources to live on. Since August the dump was replaced to Natanebi and my husband goes there to get something. It is the whole history of my tragic family,’ said Lela Beridze who was dressed all in black.

“Look at those trees there,” she pointed at the area hundred meters away. “Initially rubbish was thrown there but later it moved closer to us and people leave their garbage at my house. Last year in August, when American-Georgian Military Base was established in the area, they announced that Defense Minister was going to visit the base and they buried the dump under gravel.”

Most urgent problem for Beridze is lack of house. “Our house belonged to the Town Sanitation Department. I lived in that house as a single person; later it was subordinated to District Committee. Now they told me to find some relative to shelter at their house. But I have nowhere to go…On October 6 Sveta is getting married in the seaside town of Sufsa and we will look for a “flat” in the street…”

The history about the rubbish dump is continued in the yard of the Sanitary Supervision Office in Rustaveli Street # 138.

Local residents claimed that they often see garbage trucks loaded with rubbish to enter the yard of the office. Later people learned that trucks were leaving the garbage on the field behind the building. “We never saw flies in Kobuleti before. But this year I was holding fly-brushes all the time to kill them … I could not even open the window. Tourists also complained about it. Representatives of the Sanitary Supervision Department were collecting the garbage behind their office and later they planned to take it to Batumi,” inhabitants of the five-storied residential house explained us the situation.
Sanitary Supervision Department does not deny the above-mentioned facts. However, they claim that they were going to take the garbage to Batumi. “Should we send partly-loaded truck? Now we are taking it to Natanebi.”

At various times the rubbish of the town was thrown at the end of Tavisufleba Street. Population held demonstration regarding the fact. As a result, rubbish dump moved to the village of Gvara. However, wandering dump was not lucky enough to remain on that place either and it was taken to Ispani settlement.

Final address of the wandering rubbish dump is not in Natanebi either. Officials from the Kobuleti Local Authority cannot explain how long time it will remain on the current area.

Maka Malakmadze, Batumi

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