Yerevan’s Human Trafficking of A Different Sort: Consumers, officials look for ways to curb gridlock

Yerevan’s Human Trafficking of A Different Sort: Consumers, officials look for ways to curb gridlock

NAZIK ARMENAKYAN
ArmeniaNow

Public transport and traffic overload remain to be one the biggest challenges in continuously beautified and greener Yerevan. The municipality periodically gives assurances that things will get better, but as head of Consumers’ Association of Armenia Armen Poghosyan says “Yerevan traffic issue will be solved after the second coming of Christ”.

Minivan (called marshrutkas, which are still the main means of public transport despite the increased number of more comfortable and safer buses) accidents earlier this week that left two passengers with serious injuries, reminded once again that travelling by these minivans is not only uncomfortable, but can also be dangerous.

Over the past two weeks the traffic police have established strict control over minivans which usually transport many more passengers than the vehicle capacity allows. As a consequence of the stepped-up enforcement, bus stops are crowded with people waiting for 30-40 minutes to get the transport they need, or like in the 1990s, travel almost hanging from the bigger but fewer buses.

To those complaining and actively discussing the issue on social networks, head of city hall’s transport department Henrik Navasardyan promised that “the situation will get better soon”; nonetheless many complain that the amount of transportation means has been reduced to ease the load of traffic in the city center.

Deputy head of the municipality’s information and public relations Artur Sarukhanyan assures that “the number of passenger transport has not been reduced”.

“The thing is that the capital is now in the midst of introducing a new transportation network, and now tenders are held for the right to serve different routes. On the tender days some of the vehicles running that route might be out of service but only for a few hours, which does not imply that the overall number of public transport has been reduced,” Sarukhanyan told ArmeniaNow.

He also stressed that changes are on their way, and very soon the city hall’s “improvement will become obvious as well”.

The tenders will be over by the end of this year, after which the 240 buses – a gift from the Chinese government – will be brought in to replace the minivans number 61 and 81 running from Avan district.

Consumer Association’s Poghosyan says that mayor Taron Margaryan “seems to be persistently wanting to bring changes”, but he is pessimistic because the owners of minivan routes “are oligarchs, and going against them is rather difficult, if not impossible”.