Thousands of commuters in Tbilisi were left stranded on Friday morning as drivers of hundreds of minibuses, or marshrutkas as they are usually called, went on strike to protest against the terms offered by the new owners of marshrutkas routes.
The strike caused overcrowding of municipal buses, number of which was cut last year by the Tbilisi municipality. It now said that additional buses will go into service before the problem was resolved with drivers of marshrutkas.
Drivers of marshrutkas complain that four companies, which have just won the Tbilisi municipality’s tender to control transportation routes in the capital city, were planning to increase daily fees to be paid by the drivers and for that purpose telling drivers to increase commute cost by 20 tetri. Travel cost on most of the routes in Tbilisi is now 50 tetri (slightly less than 30 cents).
The opposition members of Tbilisi City Council say that the tender won by four companies, were in fact part of same business group close to the authorities and in particular to Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava. Opposition Republican Party said that it had obtained official tender documents indicating that all four firms have the same legal representative and that three of them were established just ahead of tender on the same day, using the same notary services.