Soviet-era cable cars keep Georgian town going

Cable-car system is Chiatura's public transport, and it has been running for free, 24 hours a day, since 1952.

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    Chiatura, a mining town in northern Georgia, boasts one of the oldest aerial tramways in the world.

    Even today, the rusting cable cars are still used to ferry commuters and miners in and out of the city centre.

    The cable car system is the public transport for the city, and it has been running 24 hours a day since 1952.

    It was first installed to ferry workers, as well as ore and manganese, which was discovered in the hills above the city in the 19th century.

    Marina Dzigvashvili has been a cable-car operator in Chiatura for the past 17 years. She said that the cable car is the fastest, if not the most comfortable, means to transport people who live up the hill.

    "You need just two minutes to come here by cable car, but the bus takes an hour at least," Dzigvashvili told Al Jazeera.

    But the daily commute in Chiatura, in what are little more than rusting boxes suspended from steel ropes, is not for the faint-hearted.

    Still, the rides are provided for free to everyone, including the occasional tourist.

    Amiran Bareladze is a cable-car engineer, and he has kept the system rolling for years now.

    "I think the machinery will outlive me, because it is metal and it will work longer. I am human and, who knows, I might die tomorrow."

    Chiatura is promised a new network of cablecars. Until then it will continue to depend on Soviet engineering - engineering that has outlasted the Soviet Union.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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