Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili on Saturday said the opening of a 27-kilometre, four-lane section of Rikoti Pass, a major crossing between eastern and western parts of Georgia, which includes 65 bridges and 38 tunnels, would “facilitate movement” on the road.
At the opening event of the road, which was attended by the diplomatic corps, MPs, and representatives of the Government and business sector, Garibashvili noted the new section would increase capacity and ensure comfortable transportation for passengers, adding the construction of an additional 97 bridges and 51 tunnels were “actively” underway.
We all know very well the importance of the construction of highways and roads for the development of our country and especially, making the East-West highway”, the Head of the Government said, adding the construction of Rikoti Pass was “the most difficult and challenging”, “no other project of such scale and complexity has ever been implemented in the country”.
“The development of the East-West international highway helps to strengthen the competitiveness of the transport corridor of Georgia. The capacity of the high-speed road and transit cargo turnover will increase, the quality of road traffic safety will be improved and the travel time will be reduced”, he added.
Since 2013, a total of 16,000 kilometres of roads have been built and rehabilitated, for which the Infrastructure Ministry allocated over ₾6 billion (about $2.2 billion), the PM stressed, emphasising that out of the completed 261 km of highways, 193 km were built and opened during his Government.
He said the ongoing construction works on the remaining sections of Rikoti Pass would be completed by the end of 2024.
I want to repeat that the construction of roads and highways brings rapid development and prosperity. We understand that it is quite a long process and these large-scale projects have very high costs, but you can see that the country is changing. During this period, the country has developed, strengthened, and become richer”, Garibashvili emphasised.
A 27-kilometre, four-lane section of Rikoti Pass compared to old road. Photo via Infrastructure Ministry
In his address, the PM thanked Pawel Herczynski, the European Union Ambassador to Georgia, the representatives of the European Investment Bank and the World Bank, as well as “all the donor organisations”, involved in the implementation of this project.
He also extended his gratitude to Infrastructure Minister Irakli Karseladze and his team, the Roads Department of Georgia, engineers and builders participating in the construction works.
The construction works are performed by four different Chinese companies that won the open tender [...] and the works are supervised by international supervisory companies with several decades of experience from France, Turkey, Australia and Korea. 146 experienced specialists, including 99 local and 47 international experts, are involved in the supervision of Rikoti Pass”, the PM said, noting more than 10,000 people were employed in the construction works, out of which more than 70 percent were Georgian citizens.
The new section of Rikoti Pass reduces travel distance by 8 km and time by 25 minutes, with all modern road safety standards, including external lighting, having been considered in the design of the new road, the Infrastructure Ministry said.
The state body noted the 27 km section included the longest bridge of 1362 metres and the longest - 1640-metre long - tunnel in the country.