Many commuters will be familiar with the trials of a poorly functioning mass transit system. However, the challenges faced by residents of one decaying city in the former Soviet republic of Georgia seem particularly gut-wrenching. Here, the morning commute can involve a singularly perilous trip in a rusty cable car. And the locals call them “metal coffins” for a reason.
Located 113 miles north-west of the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, the city of Chiatura spans a deep gorge on the Qvirila River. The extreme geography of the region could be diplomatically described as “topographically challenging.” Here, rugged mountain and vertiginous chasms present a formidable test to would-be builders of infrastructure.
Back in 1990, one year before the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the population of Chiatura was approximately 69,000. However, between 1991 and 1993 a civil war left the country marred by crisis and instability. Since then, as it happens, thousands have fled Chiatura in search of new opportunities.