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Public Defender meets with villagers in Samegrelo region

By Messenger Staff
Friday, November 20
“Poor infrastructure, alleged violation of property rights and social issues are the main problems of the rural population in Samegrelo villages,” assessed the Public Defender of Georgia, Ucha Nanuashvili after meeting with locals in the Samegrelo Region in western Georgia.

“The issue of property rights is particularly acute in the village of Anaklia. The majority of locals say they have not received compensation for the lands they conceded to infrastructure projects carried out in the village,” reads the statement of the Ombudsman on his website.

According to Nanuashvili, the state agencies have not made any effective response to the violation of the property rights.

“Those who did not leave their houses are now facing infrastructural problems because of the resort construction. They say the land level was elevated during the construction of hotels and their houses were left in a low place, as a result of which the rain floods their homes due to the poor drainage system,” Nanuashvili’s statement reads.

The Ombudsman revealed that a majority of the houses in the region are seriously damaged. In addition, sea coast protection work is suspended, which threatens the entire village. Problems were created for fishermen as well, as they cannot get fishing permits due to complicated procedures, whereas the fish trade is the only source of income for a large portion of the population.

According to the Public Defender, people living in the border villages have to cross the so-called administrative border on foot. Some of those working in the village of Rukhi have to walk kilometers from Abkhazia every day because of lack of transport.

It should be noted that before the war of 2008, buses were taking passengers between the checkpoints with the support of the United Nations, and it was a significant help to the local population. The length of the Enguri Bridge is 800 meters, and it is now damaged. The Public Defender believes that it is necessary to restore transport movement and the bridge immediately.

Nanuashvili also visited the local ambulatory care centre and the House of Culture of Rukhi. He says that the buildings are significantly damaged, which is one of the biggest concerns of the rural population. The damaged buildings cannot be repaired by the local government because their official ownership is contested.

“The problem requires a timely response and a rapid solution. The public school of Rukhi, which has received a number of awards in sports and intellectual competitions, is left without sports and assembly halls,” the statement says.

In accordance with the Public Defender's recommendation, funding of the village has been increased. Damaged houses were repaired and significant part of house roofs was renewed. Water systems were also repaired and road construction is now being launched. The Public Defender positively assessed the ongoing projects, although a number of social problems still remain in the village. The Public Defender considers it necessary to rehabilitate roads and the rural ambulatory care centre.

According to the Ombudsman’s office, Ucha Nanuashvili will survey the issues of the Samegrelo villages and will provide appropriate recommendations to both local and central governments.