Scuffles Over Street Sellers

Over the past few weeks, several Georgian media outlets have aired stories about street traders being aggressively dispersed, and their products confiscated. During Wednesday’s weekly City Hall meeting, Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze disputed the media reports.

“Videos were shared a couple of weeks ago that [seemed to show the] department of supervision dispersing street traders. I have to underline that we don’t deprive anyone of their goods, but we protect our city and the law. This law was passed long ago, and I was in fact not the initiator. Street trade is legally banned and the department gives and will give its all to prohibit any illegal street trade across the city. There are spaces designated for trade so that this activity can be conducted within the legal framework, and no one imposes restrictions in this direction, however, street trade in the central streets is absolutely unacceptable. If we close our eyes to this, we will get complete chaos and arbitrariness throughout the city,” argued Kaladze.

One street seller has alleged that as soon as he got off a marshrutka, officials from the supervision department approached him and took his goods from him. Kaladze again disputed the claim, saying that the man had been ordered to cease his activities several times, and “had been trading in the same place for a couple of days, attempting to provoke the employees of the supervision department, insulting them.” Kaladze says City Hall promptly launched an investigation and asked the director of Dinamo Stadium, where the alleged incident took place, to release security camera footage to the public. “We identified the person, who was pretended to be a poor person, but actually represented an NGOs; I will refrain from identifying who this person actually is. I hope the public will understand by itself,” said the mayor.

Kaladze charged Tbilisi’s district governors to tackle the issue. He suggested perhaps allocating one day a week in each district where a market could be set up for legal street trading, “like other civilized countries.” He added that these days could be tax-free for the traders.

Additionally, Kaladze expressed interest in reforming the supervision department by the end by September.

By Samantha Guthrie


31 August 2018 14:59