The winner of the December 20-21, 2001 tender held by the Ministry of Transportation and Communication for the Lori marz (region) inter-marz mini-bus route is known as Melik Gasparian and Friends, Inc.
This table shows Melik Gasparian & Friends, Inc.'s routes in the Lori marz only. Gasparian is the owner of routes throughout the entire republic, but more on that later.
Who is Melik Gasparian and what forces are behind him? He is a member of parliament, and carries out feverish economic activity, because of which he spends most of his time in court. During recesses in the court sessions he shows up in parliament to participate in the "important" voting. Behind Melik Gasparian are the people, his constituency. It's they who by voting for Mr. Gasparian authorized him to take charge of the routes.
Note that following the tender held in the Lori marz, a contract for four years was signed with Gasparian's company. With other companies the usual duration of such a contract is three years. The legal validity of the tender held by the Ministry of Transportation and Communication is being disputed in the Court of Appeal. Gasparian's company beat Safe Journey, CSJC. Safe Journey had taken out a loan from the Lincy foundation and bought 45 Japanese Mitsubishi minibuses, and today is going bankrupt because members of parliament, ministers, generals and numerous other leaders of the nation snatch routes out of people's hands. Not just anyone can become a route owner.
"The tender was held with numerous infringements. The transport vehicles of the winning Melik Gasparian & Friends are GAZ-2705 cargo vans converted into passenger vans which were registered by the motor licensing and inspection department as GAZ- 32213 passenger minibuses. The law stipulates that transport vehicles must satisfy safety requirements and meet international and national standards. The winning company's vehicles do not meet the necessary technical requirements and manufacturer-defined standards of operation", says Safe Journey lawyer Garen Mezhlumian. Melik Gasparian & Friends' GAZ-2705 cargo vehicles converted into passenger vans were awarded a 5 (the highest score) during the tender.
Also, says Safe Journey executive director S. Stepanian, "During the tender, the company servicing Melik Gasparian & Friends, the industrially- based Karkomavto Ltd., didn't have registered ecological papers, didn't have permits for water and drainage, or 'established norms of permissible boundary run-off'" In such cases the tender commission is required to give a score of 0, but they awarded 1 point. In response to our inquiries, different Ministry of Ecology officials (minister, deputy minister, chief inspectors) informed us four times that during the tender, Karkomavto didn't have a registered ecological certificate or individual permits for water usage and drainage systems," says Mezhlumian.
Incidentally, the same officials gave completely different responses to similar inquiries in court, stating that Karkomavto did have all of these documents. The Ministry of Transportation and Communication's tender commission has rendered its services to Melik Gasparian & Friends. Now it's the court's turn.