Posted: 1 year ago

Motorways as an Economic Development Indicator – Georgia and the World

Low-quality road construction works, protracted projects, thwarted tenders and blacklisted contractors; regretfully, this is our reality in Georgia.

An almost similar situation existed in China several years ago,though this country has overcome such difficulties. 

And today, 750 meters of roads are constructed in China every hour. “To become wealthy, we should, first of all, build roads”, the Chinese people said, and undertook an infrastructure project with this aim. They developed  special legislation, determined the quality and standards of road construction works. A special fee was introduced for driving on new motorways. Construction companies received simplified access to financial resources, credit resources were essentially cheapened, and various preferences were offered to road construction companies. 

All these efforts brought real, rapid results and, in 10 years, by 2000, China had built new roads of more than 10,000 kilometers. The total length of motorways in China reached 4 million kilometers by 2013. In the end, in 2018, the total length of motorways in China exceeded the total length of roads in Europe 1.5 times. According to the Chinese government, by 2020, China will have longer motorway infrastructure than Europe, Japan, the USA and South Korea combined. According to the last report, China annually spends 12 billion USD on road infrastructure development, and builds motorways worth10,000 kilometers a year. 

Besides the timeframe, quality also matters. Under Chinese standards, the new motorways must work for 25 years. Stricter standards are maintained in the USA and Europe, at 30 years. According to the Global Competitiveness Index, China spends about 2.2 million USD on constructing a 1 km motorway, the EU – 6.9 million USD, and the USA – 5.9 million USD. However, there are cases, when 50-100 million USD is spent on building a 1 km motorway, depending on location and climate conditions. For example, the USA spent 117 million USD on building a 1 kilometer motorway in Boston, while China spent 71 million USD on building 1 kilometer motorway as part of Changde-Jishou Expressway project. These parameters and indicators are not known in Georgia. In turn, we can determine how fast motorways are built in Georgia. 

According to the government’s 4-clause plan developed in 2016, the country was to build motorways worth more than 800 kilometers by 2020, and spend 3.5 billion USD. 

According to the Road Department’s report, in 2017-2018, about 2 billion USD was spent on road infrastructure construction-rehabilitation. Motorways worth 43.1 kilometers were developed in 2017. A total of 17 bridges were built, and 208.6 km roads were rehabilitated.

In 2018, road traffic was established on 23.6 kilometers, 8 bridges were built, and 218 km motorways were rehabilitated. In 2017-2018, roads of 66.7 kilometers were built, including a 45 km highway, 426.6 km roads were rehabilitated and 25 bridges were built. 

On the whole, under the ruling Georgian Dream party, 121.85 km of highway were built. This means that 25-30 km highways are built a year, on average. At this pace, a planned 800 km highways cannot be built by 2020. Therefore, the government has rescheduled project completion by 2023. 

As for the year 2019, the state budget has allocated 1.3 billion GEL for road infrastructure development, namely a 77 km highway east-west highway will be built in 2019. According to the Road Department, 43 km highway sections will be put into exploitation every year. 

Thus, instead of a planned 800 km, only 109.7km of highway will be constructed by 2020. The remaining 690.3 km of motorway will be built in 4 years. 

According to the  Global Competitiveness Index 2017-2018, Georgia ranks 78th on a global rating of motorway quality. 

In the Caucasus region the best motorways are reported in Azerbaijan, and the country ranks 50th on this rating. Armenia ranks 81st. As for Central Asia countries, the best roads are reported in Tajikistan, and the country ranks 71st. Kazakhstan ranks 108th, and Kyrgyzstan ranks 131st

As regards to the global level, the world’s best motorways are reported in France, the United Arab Emirates, Portugal and Oman. The worst motorways are reported in Moldova, Mozambique, Ukraine, Mauritania, Paraguay,the Democratic Republic of Congo and Madagascar.