Tuesday, July 3, 2012

No Middle Class to Live in Potekim Dream City: Larika, Misha's Folly

No Middle Class in Georgia to live in Potemkin Dream City

Misha's folly: the new Black Coast city of Lazika?

How is the city of Lazika being financed and who will pick up the tab if the houses don't sell? Which development bank?

Perhaps we should read more into what incoming PM Vano Merabishvili said:

"There is no middle class in Georgia, just the very poor and the very rich, and so there is no-one to buy these sorts of houses."

President Saakashvili claims he is going to build a new city which will be the second largest city in Georgia after the capital, Tbilisi.  He is calling on Georgians, especially IDPs from Abkhazia, to live there and prosper. However, in spite of these claims, the President has done nothing to actually make the city he is dreaming about a reality.
Nevertheless, despite first impressions and the project's many detractors, this dream is being shared with the residents of   West Georgian, especially those living in the Zugdidi region. The plan Saakashvili wakes up thinking about is to create a modern day Brasilia, a promised land without people for a people without land, in the purest Zionist spirit. He is endeavoring to make this dream come true. 

Naturally such an ambitious plan has its detractors; those who claim that it is merely a pipedream and nobody in their right mind would go and live there, leaving the place to the mosquitoes that fear hard core Megrelians. At least that is what members of various opposition parties think, in so many words.
Take for instance Giorgi Gugava, Political Secretary of the Labor Party, who considers  the initiative  foolish and states that when journalists speak about it seriously they are merely playing along with   the government’s PR campaign, which  makes this  scheme   look no more foolish than the  other Potekim Villages around Georgia.  Gugava also thinks that it is a lame attempt at diverting opposition attention from the real issues which should be part of any presidential or parliamentary campaign.
Nonetheless, the project looks attractive. Construction of this grandiose Georgian city will start in spring of next year, and will bear the name of a region which faded into history many centuries ago, but remains in the minds of many. The new city will be near Abkhazia, a breakaway region which Georgia lost 20 years ago in a bloody and needless civil war. Lazika will be built between Anaklia and Kulevi.

In Angola the government has recently announced a portion of the apartments at Kilamba will be designated social housing, which people on low incomes can rent long-term at low prices. No-one is quite sure how that scheme will work or who will be eligible, and cynics have dismissed it as a vote-winning stunt ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled to take place on 31 August.

There is also the issue of what will happen to all the full-cost apartments if they do not sell. Kilamba was financed by a Chinese credit line - which Angola is repaying with oil - so it has technically been paid for.

But if the houses go unsold, then the Angolan government will be left with stock on their hands and a potentially wasted investment.

According to Merabishvili the united databases will be created, the unemployed and job seekers status will be introduced and distribution of resources will be derived from these data.


How very socialist?! Do they intend to march the people there, or build a railroad?

One student, a 17-year-old called Sebastiao Antonio - who spends nearly three hours a day in traffic getting to and from classes from his home 15km away - told me how much he liked the city.


Saakashvili has a dream, and perhaps the World Bank or some other institution with deep pockets will make it a reality, provided the numbers add up.  It is expected that the population of Lazika will reach a minimum of half a million during the next 10 years, provided mass immigration to other countries ceases.  Saakashvili has declared that it will not only be the second largest city in Georgia but the main trade and economic center in Western Georgia and the main Georgian Black Sea resort. Watch out Batumi, now you might have to take a back seat to such a grand scheme.  The President has also said that construction will start next year. A new harbor will be built across from Anaklia for the elite class who will stay for a while in their cruisers. The best engineers will be called in to undertake the construction; it will be like walking in new snow for open minded architects.
Georgian opposition members consider that grand construction projects cannot be an alternative to returning Georgians to Abkhazia. They consider that the Georgian state should not give up the struggle to regain Abkhazia, as is implied by creating a lame substitute of it.  Experts say that the Lazika project has been stolen from an American company, and its designers are going to bring a case Strasbourg, or somewhere, so that they can regain control of a project rightfully theirs. It is well known that the project was sent to Saakashvili with the expectation that the Georgian government   would ask the World Bank for financing, as this is the standard procedure for big projects which need international development money to get going. 
However, it appears that this proposal is being held in abeyance. More than 1 year has passed since the project was sent to Saakashvili, but the World Bank has not received a proposal   or even any information about this grand concept. Basically, aside from the hype, there is no real plan, or project for developing any plan, for building this grand seaside city.
Maybe this company could build Misha's folly (the new Black Coast city of Lazika)? All he needs are half a million rich people who can afford to go and live there... without jobs.  But how will they create local jobs for all these people?

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