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People must fight for their passenger rights

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, July 19
Summers in Georgia are always hot, especially in Tbilisi, and the availability of air-conditioning remains a problem in public transport.

There is no air-conditioning at all in the city's yellow buses while the drivers of marshutkas (minibuses) in many cases refrain from switching on the system.

Business Contact, a TV programme, claims in private conversations the drivers of the mini-busses say they are tasked by the leadership of their operator company Tbilisi Mini-Bus, to switch on the conditioning system only if passengers categorically demand it.

The Tbilisi Mini-Bus company denies the claim, and states that they ordered each driver of the minibuses to switch on the air-conditioning system if the temperature reaches more than 27 degrees centigrade.

“Despite the fact it was not the company obligation to maintain the air-conditioning systems of the transport systems, we spent 200,000 GEL to make the systems work appropriately. We also decreased the seasonal fee for the drivers which makes the them responsible to create comfortable conditions for passengers,” company representative Natia Mikiashvili said.

Mikiashvili confirmed that some drivers still do not meet the demand.

She stressed that carrying out control measures on 2,500 mini-busses was hard, and she asked passengers to protect their passenger rights and phone the a company hotline (032 2 200 340) if the driver ignored their demand to switch on the air-conditioning system.

Mikiashvili said in case of a first offence, the driver would be deprived of driving his vehicle for a week; a second offence would result in a month-long ban, while any further violations will result in the suspension or termination of the driver's contract.

In many situations, passengers do not report such violations, and endure stifling conditions sometimes for up to an hour in the hot marshutkas.

The situation in the marshutkas is not regulated, and drivers generally take on more passengers than they should. In many cases there is even no place to stand in the marshutka, and when the vehicle is full of passengers the situation becomes unbearable.

In such situations, people must demand that their rights be respected; silently tolerating this behaviour sets a precedent. Georgians must learn how to enforce their rights, else the transition into a modern democratic state will be a slow one.