Intended to house half a million residents in ten years on what is now a stretch of marshy land near the Black Sea, the hastily started plans for the new city, which were rolled out only four months ago, have drawn mixed reactions in the country, but little real debate.
"Government officials have little time to engage with skeptics. The headlong pace of new construction in Georgia has not allowed for public debate over the projects' financing, environmental impact or merit. Despite queries raised on all of these scores, Lazika's first building - a futuristic Public Service Hall for the new city - is already under construction, and due to open in September. Ten years from now, President Mikheil Saakashvili has said, Lazika will be Georgia's second-largest city after Tbilisi, which has a population of about 1.5 million, and a leading Black Sea trading hub."
"There are so many things that need to be done," says Eka Gigauri of Transparency International. "Why build a totally new city? What stands behind that? There was nothing, no explanation. Just the president said, ‘We are building a new city there.' "