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26 Feb 2018

Luka Pertaia, oc-media.org

Welcome to ‘hell’: working on a Georgian railway construction site

See all tags Allegations

26 February 2018

...The construction site Tevdore is working on is part of a project to modernise Georgia’s main east-west railway line, from Tbilisi to Batumi. The main construction work is being carried out on the Zestaponi–Kharagauli and Moliti–Kvishkheti sections of the railway. The cost of the project is 260 million Swiss francs ($278 million)...

...Not everyone is satisfied with the decision to end the strike. Many of the workers doubt the company will address serious concerns over their safety. ‘This is what experience has taught us’, Kiknadze says.

According to one worker, 44-year-old Arsen Latsabidze, power cables are left exposed in the dark tunnel during construction. ‘These cables are often left in puddles inside the tunnel’, he adds.

Besides failing to ensure their safety and refusing to pay for sick leave and time off, workers claim the company has ignored a number of issues they have previously discussed. According to spadesman Jaba Peradze, 40, the company often fails to provide enough gloves, forcing them to use worn-out ones.

The workers say their drinking water becomes polluted every time it rains... The toilets and showers on the site do not meet even basic hygiene standards...

Just three days after the agreement to end the strike was reached, three workers were injured in an explosion in the tunnel. The explosion was planned as part of the construction, but several workers near where explosives were planted were not warned before they were detonated. A criminal investigation has been launched for ‘violations of health and safety rules’...

Georgian Railway told OC Media they are not responsible for labour conditions on railway construction sites, adding that their concern is the quality of the project.

Archil Grishashvili, Director of China Railway 23rd Bureau Group, declined to comment on accusations against the company.