A section of road leading to Tbilisi’s Zahesi Bridge has collapsed only months after ₾4 million ($1.7 million) restoration works on it were completed.
Tbilisi City Hall had decided to conduct technical examinations of the work only after the bridge reopened, and traffic was restored on 18 March. According to City Hall, the road collapsed due to heavy rain, as there were no drainage channels built into it.
City Hall will now have to find additional funds from the budget to repair the bridge.
Georgian TV channel Rustavi 2 was told by Deputy Head of the City Council, Giorgi Tkemaladze, denied that the collapse was connected to the restoration works.
Investigative TV show Studia Monitori, who broke the story, were told by Lasha Chkhikvishvili, head of City Hall’s Department for Municipal Improvements, that restoration works would continue ‘in a few days’.
Chkhikvishvili said that drainage was not installed because ‘there was no need for it, but, apparently, it was [necessary]’.
Another City Hall official said that there was no problem with examining the bridge after it was opened.
Independent expert Zurab Oragvelidze told Studia Monitori that heavy vehicles should not have been allowed to cross the bridge prior to a technical examination, but that in this case they were.
The collapse is not the first scandal to hit the restoration work on Zahesi Bridge, along with nearby Aveduki Bridge, which began in 2015. Tbilisi City Hall awarded a ₾4.5 million ($1.9 million) contract for the work to Construction-Commercial Corporation Khidi. The company’s head, Teimuraz Tsivtsivadze, was arrested in 2016 for misappropriating ₾1.5 million ($620,000) of the funds. Following Tsivtsivadze’s arrest another company took over the works with a reduced budget of ₾4 million.