Georgian Military Highway reeling again

Georgian Military Highway reeling again

Georgian patrol police and the road authorities have started to pass heavy vehicles through to the Georgian Military Highway in the direction of the Upper Lars-Lower Zaramag checkpoint on the North Ossetian section of the Russian-Georgian border. The restoration of traffic on the strategic highway is due to improved weather conditions and the reduction of the danger of avalanches or mudslides. Contrary to popular belief, the main danger on the historic Georgian Military Highway, linking Tbilisi to Vladikavkaz across the Stepantsminda,  is not ice, heavy snow or strong winds, but avalanches and mudslides. They not only block the way, as was often the case in the previous years, but what is  much more tragic, they often become the reason for vehicles crashing over cluffs. Moreover, according to experts, such a danger exists in the first place, it threatens the hulking heavy trucks with trailers. In the past year mudslides have resulted in casualties.

But as soon as the weather improves, the movement in both directions picks up and it becomes national news, because the Georgian Military Highway is the only road connecting Georgia and Armenia with Russia. Two other roads – in Abkhazia and South Ossetia – are closed because of the unresolved Georgian-Abkhazian and Georgian-Ossetian conflicts.

An especially important road is the Tbilisi-Stepantsminda-Vladikavkaz-Armenia highway. Therefore, in recent days, among the trucks awaiting their turn to be sent to the north, there were plenty of vehicles with Armenian number plates.

The Georgian services pitch tents and set up special points for heating and hot meals, cafés and hotels are working for drivers. However, the drivers from Armenia often complain about the high prices. In addition, there are not so many seats in the cafes and hotels – about 70-80, and in emergency situations such an amount is not enough, and the drivers have to be heated in their vehicles, which is wasting the precious resources of their vehicles and this is  increasing the costs of exported products.

Not to mention the fact that often these products are perishable. Thus, a few days of downtime on the Georgian Military Highway may result in a loss to everyone. For this reason there are cases when Armenian drivers, suspecting the likelihood of the downtime being longer than 1-2 days, are turning back to Armenia.

This emphasizes how important the highway is for the neighboring country. The second way, via the Georgian ports of Poti and Batumi, can be used, and it is profitable for big enterprises, but as the drivers and the owners of the goods say, it is very inconvenient for the delivery of small batches. Especially if the goods are being delivered directly to the North Caucasus and the Rostov region, not to mention the more eastern regions of Russia.

However, this problem is chronic and it is impossible to resolve, because the Georgian Military Road goes through the pass on a high-mountain serpentine, and no new construction technology of communications can prevent many days of downtime due to the severe weather conditions and the fatal danger of avalanches or mudslides.

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Vestnik Kavkaza

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