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Gagik Aghbalyan

Waiting for EU Money: Drivers in Armenia’s Tavoush Province Tackle Bad Roads

A sign along the M4 stretch of highway in Armenia’s Tavoush Province proudly proclaims that the roadway is “serviced by Levon the Second Ltd.”.

The roadway running between the towns of Dilijan and Ijevan is so bad, however, that the sign should read “not serviced by Levon the Second Ltd.”

The ever-present potholes are a bane to drivers. In fact, roads in this northeastern province look like they were shelled in the early 1990s war with Azerbaijan, on the other side of the border.

Many stretches are hardly navigable and eat-up the undercarriages of cars.

It now takes drivers twice as long to drive the 35 kilometers from Ijevan to Dilijan given the poor state of the highway.

There are deep potholes in the highway as it passes through the village of Hovk, even though 150 million AMD was spent in 2010 to repair the road damaged by sinkholes.

Drivers ferrying tourists and goods along the road stuck their thumbs up in the air when they saw this reporter documenting the dilapidated roadway with his video camera. They were saying it’s about time someone was covering the issue.

One driver, who wished to remain anonymous, said he was from transporting goods from the Czech Republic and had just passed through Georgia. The driver said the roads there were far better than in Armenia.

Armenian drivers say the costs of driving along these roads is staggering.

According to a statement released by Armenia’s Ministry of Transport, Communications and IT, the M4 is slated for maintenance this summer. Work is already underway to fill in the potholes.

The road is particularly bad near the village of Haghartzin. It takes careful drivers, concerned about not damaging their vehicles,15-20 minutes just to drive through a one kilometer stretch that runs through the village.

On March 17, a company called Haghartzin Ltd. filled the potholes along this stretch with sand. The reason was simple. The next day, Armenian Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan was scheduled to visit the area. Local residents were incensed that it took the visit of a top official for the roadway to receive some semblance of repair.

The ministry told Hetq that this stretch of road was slated for renovation and that the matter of financing was being discussed.

According to information at Hetq’s disposal, the government is disinclined to use state funds to renovate the highway.

Haghartzin ceased to be a separate community soon after the May 2015 local referendum, even though most voted to remain so. Haghartzin is now administratively a part of Dilijan.

The European Union, which has pushed for the consolidation of rural villages, has promised to invest in infrastructure in the event of consolidation.

No wonder that the government of Armenia is reluctant to invest any of its own money.

While waiting for European Union funds, drivers, and their passengers, continue to suffer.

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