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The then Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia, Elguja Khokrishvili, visited the second lot construction site of the Kobuleti bypass road and checked the progress made there. “The number of locals employed on this construction site (Kobuleti bypass) is very high. The creation of jobs for local people is highly important for us and we took this into account when signing a contract with the Sinohydro Corporation. As of today, 70% of the people employed on the construction of the bypass are Georgian citizens,” said Mr Khokrishvili.

FactCheck

took interest in this statement and verified its accuracy.

According to the information

published on the website of the Roads Department of Georgia, the length of the Kobuleti bypass road is 33.6 km. The donor of the project is the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the construction is being carried out by the Sinohydro Corporation. The project is divided into two lots.

The length of the first lot construction site is 14.7 km. The construction of the new 12.4 km Choloki-Sarpi road was finished in 2013 and opened for traffic. The reconstruction of the first lot Chakvi-Makhinjauri four-lane road is still in progress.

As for the second lot of the Kobuleti bypass road, the project comprises the construction of 18.9 km of asphalt-concrete pavement, 16 bridges, seven overpasses, two tunnels and 64 culverts. The construction of the road bed, overpasses and the placement of reinforced concrete piers at bridge sites were implemented in 2013.

The overall cost of the project is GEL 209 million and 600 people are employed on the construction sites. Construction started on 24 May 2013 and is planned to be finished by 18 February 2016.

As for the people employed on the Kobuleti bypass road construction, we requested information from the Roads Department of Georgia. According to their information, the contract signed with the Sinohydro Corporation provides for 70% of the workers employed on the construction to be Georgian citizens. As for the current statistics, 90% of the people employed on the construction of the Kobuleti bypass are Georgian citizens and the other 10% are Chinese citizens. As for the second lot of the road, 82% of the employed people are Georgian citizens and 18% are Chinese citizens.

It should be pointed out that the construction of the Kobuleti bypass road took place amid a series of protest rallies and strikes. For example, a large-scale strike took place in October and November 2012. The employees demanded raised wages, the reduction of working hours and the provision of protective clothing. According to the strikers, the Sinohydro Corporation terminated the contracts with 200 workers for taking part in the strikes.

On 13 January 2014, heavy construction machine operators organised a protest rally at the Sinohydro Corporation’s office. According to the protesters, 13-hour working days, instead of the eight-hour working days provided by the contract, were enforced with wage surpluses not received and appropriate working conditions not provided. The protesters also said that the heavy machinery often breaks down because of overwork and construction is interrupted which results in their having to pay fines.

Conclusion

According to the Roads Department of Georgia, the contract signed with the Sinohydro Corporation provides for 70% of the workers employed on the construction to be Georgian citizens.

The Roads Department also informed us that 82% of the people employed on the second lot of the construction are Georgian citizens; 90% of the people employed on both lots are also Georgians. It should be pointed out, however, that the construction of the Kobuleti bypass road took place amid a series of protest rallies and strikes with protesters demanding raised wages, a reduction of working hours and the improvement of working conditions.

FactCheck concludes that Elguja Khokrishvili’s statement: “The number of locals employed on this construction site (Kobuleti bypass) is very high. The creation of jobs for local people is highly important for us and we took this into account when signing a contract with the Sinohydro Corporation. As of today, 70% of the people employed on the construction of the bypass are Georgian citizens,” is TRUE.