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Power grid facilities in Russia are so out dated that heavy rainfall, snowfall and hurricanes can leave thousands of people without electricity, says Alexander Moskalenko, the president of GCE Group

11.01.2012

The death of a child in the reservoir, which took place in the Russian city of Bryansk, experts say, has become an inevitable consequence of dilapidation and failure of public utilities in Russian cities. In the future similar accidents will be more, experts warn.


On 8 January in Bryansk right under the feet of a woman walking with a pram the pavement, beneath which was a sewer reservoir, collapsed. The young mother managed to escape, but the one and half year old child was thrown from the pram and was swept away by the underground flow.

Unfortunately, this tragedy may not be the only one. Analysts say that the emergency condition of the urban infrastructure is a problem all over Russia. According to their estimates, the national average depreciation of the urban utility systems is 60%.

Things are not better in the area of utility infrastructure of residential houses. In most of these the pipes and wirings are not changed for half a century.

The weakest links

The experts say that the weakest points of urban infrastructure and housing are water and power supply. The power grid facilities in Russia are so outdated that heavy rainfall, snowfall and hurricanes can leave thousands of people without electricity, says Alexander Moskalenko, the President of GCE Group.

According to him, now the money is invested in the reconstruction of large thermal power plants, and the no resources reaches to the grid management. "Serious investments are made there. Power grid facilities are aging. And specifically the wire that comes to our houses has not been changed since decades” - he said in an interview with RIA Novosti.

Even the wirings in the residential buildings are not changed in time, adds Victor Fedoruk, member of the Coordination Council of the Moscow public organization “Housing Solidarity”   The problem, according to him, and is that in most of the houses the wiring is hidden. To change it, the new wire has to be clinked to the tip of the old, and the old wire is pulled out and the new one comes into its place.

However, this technology only works if the wiring is changed in time, because eventually the aluminium wires begin to break, and to replace them, you need to hit the wall, he said. In most of the Russian houses the wiring has not been changed since the time of construction, and to replace it now, will require serious construction work, but “on this all are now silent and are afraid to even raise this issue, only the switches are change, but the wires are not changed”- the expert clarified to RIA Novosti .

“It is easier to pay for the coffin”

The water supply system also remains without adequate funding, according to the experts. “In St. Petersburg water is saturated with oxygen, which means that its corrosive properties are elevated and it is also hot. Just imagine, with what speed the processes occur? That is about ten times, and maximum in 15 years the pipe should be changed. I lived at one time in a house, that had just been built, but just after ten years fistula appeared in the pipes and water drops were leaking out. And this is what all over the city. But once in 10-15 years the pipes are not changed in our houses”, - says Alexander Moskalenko.

Victor Fedoruk notes that, according to the departmental construction standards the pipes in the house should be changed once in 25 years, but in reality even this does not happen. “My house is 35 years old, and the pipe that had to be replaced 10 years ago, were not yet changed by anyone. Let us wait till they break”- he said.

According to experts, Russia's communal service personnel mostly function as lifeguards: they start repairing the engineering systems only when something is burst somewhere. And, as a rule, even in this case, the repair is done only at the burst site. Victor Fedoruk recalled that during the Soviet times there was such and activity called “preventive maintenance” of communications and residential buildings. Today, such thing does not exist.

 “For the officials it is easier to pay for the coffin, if the building collapses and someone dies, than to give out money for repairs”, - said Fedoruk.

The experts do not expect any positive changes in the near future, "In the coming years, I do not expect major changes and rejuvenation of the systems. We will continue to read in the newspapers about the hot water holes, into which people fall”, - thinks Alexander Moskalenko.

What is to be done?

The Russians can not exercise any influence upon the situation with the urban infrastructure, because the distribution of funds is done by the federal and local authorities, and practically the country has no mechanism of control over their activities from the side of the population. Worst of all is the case in the subsidized regions, which include the Bryansk region, said Galina Khovanskaya, a member of the Duma Committee on Construction and Land Relations. In her opinion, the main problem lies in the incorrect allocation of budget funds.

“The federal government should think how to redistribute the income by the government levels. Now in the city of Bryansk you will be told that they have no money in the budget. The lower level of government is given more and more powers which are not ensured financially"- she said in an interview with RIA Novosti.

However Khovanskaya does not remove the responsibility from the local authorities. “Now if you will be told that they have applied for fund, but they were not given any funds, then their fault is that they might not have too heavily demanded. Nor might have appealed to the prosecutor's office”- she explained.

But if the Russians can not influence the situation in the city, then the state of infrastructure systems in residential buildings is largely dependent on their tenants. Here, it is easier for the apartment owners, because all that is associated with major repairs at home, which includes the replacement of pipes and wiring, is their responsibility. The decision on the repair and choosing the contractor is taken in the meeting of owners, and all repair works are funded directly from their pockets. Well, as we know, he who pays the piper calls the tune.
Those who got the apartment on social recruitment contract may also exercise an influence on the maintenance and repair of the houses, but for them it is more complicated than for the owners. Since the owner of housing in this case is the state, the residents should contact the municipality and the municipal government in order to take necessary action contacts the management company.

The more actively the Russians will participate in the process of management of their houses, the quicker the housing infrastructure changes for the better. “If we all start demanding to deliver us quality service, eventually we will get it”- sums up Alexander Moskalenko.

Source: ria.ru

 
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