|Following April 2018, one of the areas in the center of attention of the new authorities has been road construction. Every year they set a new, higher bar for the road construction/rehabilitation works during the year.|
At one of the government meetings at the end of 2022, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, referring to the promised 500 km of road rehabilitation works per year, asked Minister Gnel Sanosyan whether the promise had been fulfilled or is being fulfilled. The Minister of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure stated that not only did they fulfil the promise, but also road construction works had been over-performed by 20 km. Moreover, according to Sanosyan, it was not a final indicator, because the year had not yet ended.
“Do we have the specific list of these roads. So, if someone asks us how we got these kilometers, do we have the list of roads and can we publish them if necessary?” the Prime Minister asked.
The minister replied that they do have the list. “Yes, we have the whole list with details, like which roads, whether they are interstate, national, or local, the sections, number of kilometers. We even have the following details: suppose it was planned to pave 10 km, but now 8.7 are paved. The 500 km that we announced, that’s how we announced it… We have the whole list.”
The Fact Investigation Platform studied the road pavement works carried out in the country in the last 3 years and revealed that although the volume of works conducted in Armenia in the recent years was a record high compared to previous years, they were not carried out in the volume that the current authorities promised.
The authorities promised to construct/rehabilitate 500 km of roads every year, starting 2020. This number does not include the North-South Road and roads paved with municipal subsidy programs.
According to the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure, 244 km of the planned works in 2020 were supposed to be major road rehabilitation works, and about 100 km of roads were planned for average repair. The rest was supposed to be constructed within the framework of various projects.
With the co-financing of the World Bank and the government, another 23.3 km of roads were rehabilitated under the Armenia Lifeline Road Network Improvement Project.
Another 12.6 km of road was rehabilitated with the financing of the Asian Development Bank under the M6 Vanadzor-Alaverdi-Georgian Border Interstate Road Rehabilitation and Improvement Project.
As a result, in 2020, contrary to the government’s promise, about 388 km of roads were rehabilitated in Armenia.
Next, in 2021, the government promised to rehabilitate 500 km of road. Moreover, at one of the government meetings at the end of the year, it was reported to the Prime Minister that the promise of average repair and major rehabilitation of 500 km of roads planned for the year would be fulfilled.
However, the promise was not fulfilled. In 2021, 219 km of roads were subjected to major rehabilitation works in Armenia, 77 km of roads underwent average repair. 61 km of roads were repaired within the framework of the Armenia Road Safety Improvement Project, 29 km were repaired under the M6 Vanadzor-Alaverdi-Georgian Border Interstate Road Rehabilitation and Improvement Project.
Thus, in 2021, about 386 km of roads were rehabilitated in Armenia.
Earlier, in 2022, the government also set a milestone for the rehabilitation/construction of 500 km of roads. At one of the government meetings at the end of the year, Minister of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure, Gnel Sanosyan, reported to the prime minister that the 500 km of road rehabilitation works were over-preformed.
In fact, the government did not fulfill its promise last year either.
According to the data provided by the Road Department SNCO, 301.5 km of roads were rehabilitated in Armenia last year, and average repair works were conducted on 154 km of roads. 12.9 km were rehabilitated under the Armenia Lifeline Road Network Improvement Project, and 9.8 km were rehabilitated under the M6 Vanadzor-Alaverdi-Georgian Border Interstate Road Rehabilitation and Improvement Project. Last year, rehabilitation works were also carried out in the most accident-prone sections, the so-called “black spots“, totaling 7.8 km.
In other words, a total of 486 km of roads were rehabilitated in Armenia in 2022.
It may seem that the promise of 500 kilometers was almost fulfilled. However, here the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure has resorted to an interesting manipulation. Several road sections that were rehabilitated in 2021 were also overhauled this year. In other words, two years in a row, the same road was rehabilitated and was separately included in the statistics of rehabilitated roads for each year.
The ministry explains this by the sharp increase in the load of those road sections and the need to conduct new works as a result. While in the case of the Tatev-Aghvani road we can consider it an objective justification, in the case of the Yerevan-Goris interstate road, the same reasoning “does not work”, because the road has always been loaded with trucks, at least during the years of independence. This means that the road sections that were rehabilitated in the previous years were not so thoroughly rehabilitated, and to include them in the number of repaired roads is a manipulation.
Besides, the ministry also included the Ltsen-Tatev, Kashuni-Bardzravan and Tandzaver-Shurnukh roads in the list of rehabilitated roads in 2022. It should be noted that roads are being constructed here almost from scratch, but they have not yet been finally commissioned.
This article was ready for publication when the issue related to this year’s road construction programs was discussed in detail at the government meeting on 16.02.2023, during which Prime Minister Pashinyan and Minister Sanosyan, among others, also addressed the rehabilitation of the above-mentioned road sections.
It will be interesting to see whether these roads will be included in the list of rehabilitated works for 2023.
At the end of last year, in one of his interviews, Minister of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure Gnel Sanosyan announced that in 2022, more than 520 km of roads were rehabilitated.
Thus, the promises of construction and rehabilitation of 500 km of roads per year never came true in the last 3 years, and some of the roads that were rehabilitated in the previous years were again included in the statistics of rehabilitated roads for the year 2022. And if we do not count the double major rehabilitation works, we will see that in 2022, not 486, but 381 km of roads were rehabilitated.