The Varketili metro was renovated only five months ago with 130 000 dollars allocated to the project" />

Tbilisi metro station ceiling collapses injuring 14

The Varketili metro was renovated only five months ago with 130 000 dollars allocated to the project

Fourteen passengers in Tbilisi’s Varketili metro station have been injured after the ceiling of the structure caved in.

Emergency services received a call for help at 10:40 local time on Tuesday.

The first photographs of the site were posted to Facebook by witnesses of the event:

Those injured are now in four Tbilisi hospitals. The Minister of Health David Sergeenko says that they are in a stable condition. The doctors at the Ingorokva University Clinic, which are currently treating four people, say that their condition has been assessed as ‘moderately severe’. They have received trauma to their chests, lower limbs and heads. Two had to go undergo operations on their limbs, the clinic says.

Repairs at the Varketili station were completed in August 2017, about five months ago. They were carried out by Kvarelmsheni, a company which won the state tender and the accompanying 347 852 lari from the budget. The station was opened to the public in September.

The general director of the Tbilisi Transport Company Mamuka Kobakhidze says that an investigation will be carried out of all Tbilisi metro stations, beginning with Akhmeteli Theatre station which was also renovated by Kvarelmsheni beginning today. “We will meticulously study how the work was conducted in order to avoid new problems,” say the mayor of Tbilisi, Kakha Kaladze, who visited the incident site.

Kaladze said that ‘those responsible for this incident will be severely punished and that the relevant department will find out who is responsible for the caved in ceiling’.

David Narmania, the former mayor of Tbilisi during whose tenure the work was carried out also reacted. He said that all renovation work was completed in a timely manner and adhered to safety regulations. As for what happened at the station, Narmania said: “One should ask the representatives of the construction company because Tbilisi Transport Company was responsible for the supervision of the tender commission. Consequently, all questions should be directed to them.”

The incident is actively being discussed on Facebook.

“The collapse in the metro is another, and hopefully the last, proof that the system of state tenders is not effective and needs serious reform. Tenders in an electronic format are just a facade behind which a weak system of quality control lies which has been deprived of real reaction mechanisms.”

“My friend was saved by literally a moment. This metro was recently repaired. Before that, the station was in operation for 30 years in its original form. ‘Rustaveli’, and practically half of the other stations, have been around for half a century – and there are no such problems there. The authorities should be ashamed that they cannot control anything and that they give out construction contracts left and right to unknown companies. It is impossible to act so recklessly in regards to safety standards and peoples’ lives,” wrote another Facebook user.

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