Why has Construction.RU written an open letter to the Governor of the Saratov region,Valery Radayev, after our journalist’s trip to Saratov?
Open Letter to the Saratov region’s Governor, Valery RADAYEV
Dear Mr Radayev,
I am writing to you as my countryman. An odd coincidence: you were born in the Khvalynsky district of the Saratov region, and I grew up in Saratov, in Khvalynskaya Street, named after your native town. For more than 30 years, I have been visiting my relatives there. Usually, I go there by car – so, volens nolens, I pay attention to local road conditions.
I must say that lately the region has started on road construction. For example, if, in 2013/2014, on the Borisoglebsk to Saratov road, there were sections without any road surface at all, there is now a comfortable two-way highway.
There are different section of the Saratov-Borisoglebsk highway
And I want to thank you, because your predecessors did not manage to do this. I also would like to thank you for the usage of modern road construction technologies: I mean the application of local plant run-offs, e.g. phosphogypsum instead of gravel chippings, which has allowed us to save a lot of money and accelerate the construction work.
I have never seen so many special vehicles on the regional roads
But what I saw in the regional city itself does not merit thanks. Of course, first of all I went to the Leninsky district, where my relatives live. The photos of what I saw there will say more than words.
Phosphogypsum used instead of gravel chippings in road construction
I must admit that I am rather difficult to astonish: I often visit other cities and I have seen much ugliness: dirty streets, broken asphalt on the roads, uncared-for public gardens. But Saratov is my native city, and I was sad to see it so undeveloped.
The balcony remnants in Michurin street
Inside a house in Michurin street
So, I visited two of the city’s districts: Leninsky (Mezhdunarodnaya Street) and the center (Gorky, Michurin, Rabochaya, and other Streets). What is my impression? Firstly, Saratov’s pavements show no signs of municipal responsibility. Near businesses, cafes, hairdressers and shops, good pavements and grass lawns are in evidence. In other places, footpaths seem to have been forgotten.
A standard yard in the Leninsky district
Individual winterization of a flat
The yard is different, the picture is the same
The house was overhauled some years ago, but the waste is still here
I was in this district (Volskaya, Gorky, Rabochaya, Michuron, and Ralhov Streets) for only two hours. During that time, I saw three emergencies and two breakdowns that took place in the process of accident damage control.
No private shops – no pavement with asphalt
There was asphalt here 28 years ago, just before elections
And I then remembered that Saratov is at 100th place as to the quality of utility services. To remind you, there are 85 regions in Russia, and so this means that Saratov is behind even some district centers.
The market in Lenin square, 9 a.m., 20.05.16
I saw many lidless sanitary sewer manholes in the Leninsky district. As local people told me, the lids get stolen and junked.
The picture is different where there is business: shops, cafes, hairdressers’
Besides this, some of the sanitary sewer manholes are choked with waste or there is a stick with a handwritten warning.
Utility line accident
Utility line accident in Sovetskaya str.
Heat supply main accident
The condition of the new sanitary manholes is also far from good: the lid is the wrong size for the hole, and there is a significant enough clearance for a wheel to fall in.
Residents of the houses in Sokolova str. do not remember the time, when there was asphalt there.
1 p.m. but the waste is still there (Ulianovskaya str.,6/12)
The city’s utilities services are likely to say that lids that are impossible to junk have been produced for a long time as it is. Besides, they are much cheaper than cast-iron ones.
And now, speaking of the roads in Saratov: they look like a patchwork quilt.
In the yard of WW II veterans’ city club
The neglected manhole filled with litter – a typical view
Another manhole without a lid in Mezhdunarodhaya str.
One more manhole in Mezhdunarodnaya
Citizens shagged-out from driving along such roads are moaning and asking the question: isn’t it possible to lay at least one large street in the city with asphalt per year?
The former heads of the region and the city have not dealt with this problem. And I so hope that you and the Head of the Saratov municipal administration, Valery Saraev, will manage it.
To be fair, there are good roads in the city, for example, Miasnitskaya Street. I may conclude that there are specialists in the regional center and that they are quite professional. Three kilometers from Saratov, in the city of Engels, the roads have traditionally been (and are still) better than in the regional center. Why not raise up the level of Saratov’s roads to the level of those in its regional towns?
A pit in Mezhdunarodnaya
The same view in the same street
I would also like to speak of the conditions of some buildings. To tell the truth, I was very pleased with the Seminary’s façade (in the photo), the Saratov regional court (in the photo), the Russian-German Gymnasium №1 — they exceeded my expectations. But the condition of some buildings, being historic and culturally significant… I feel aggrieved.
Waste in the manhole
And one more thing: I had such trouble finding a playground for children in the Leninsky district. I was lucky to find one – it was just near the local administration building. It was likely done so the local authorities could feast their eyes on children playing. I did not find any other playgrounds in the neighborhood.
The manhole is filled with water
Another thing, Mr Radayev, is the condition of some porches. How do you like the telephone number of a local police officer written on the wall in marker, and near it, the telephone number of another service in case the police refuses to help you?
The lid does not fit the manhole
It has been like that for many years
By the way, I am not publishing the photos of my native Khvalynskaya Street here – I’m passing over Glebychev Gulley on purpose. Our readers will not be worried - they will be shocked. Why poison people’s lives?
I understand that you maybe have no time to deal with the utilities and development spheres –I took my photos before the primaries, which took place on May 22nd.
The roads in the city are like patchwork quilt
Near municipal authorities’ building there are flowers and the asphalt is good
But there are corresponding services which deal with all of this on a daily and hourly basis.
Before my trip, I asked the Saratov regional minister for construction, Dmitry Tepin, via his spokesman, Viacheslav Tashkovsky, to speak on the construction and utilities sphere of the region, but our meeting did not take place. The minister did not find the time to speak about these and other urgent topics. Not long before this, I had been present at a meeting in the RF Ministry of Construction, Housing and Utilities, where the Saratov region was noted as one of the three worst regions regarding the dilapidated housing resettlement program. By the way, I do not remember a single meeting or conference where the Saratov region was praised. Might I have been inattentive?
To return to the issue, everybody who comes to Saratov speaks of its two main problems: its weak development and bad roads. There may be lots of possible explanations, like the fact that the region is a beneficiary.
Of course, you inherited the region in a bad condition. The Saratov regional state debt in April was over 50 bln roubles. But the region will remain a beneficiary if serious investors are not found. To attract investors, one must find money to develop engineering utilities for the objects under construction.
A seminary façade is very goodlooking
… and the Saratov court as well
A nice façade of the Russian-German gymnasium N1
In the yard after the rain
The cultural heritage monument is in poor condition
Regional authority representatives tell us that Saratov does not have money. But if you do not attract investors, the region will remain a beneficiary. There must be something to start with, something to break the vicious circle! The regional government has found the opportunity to help Bosсh and Holcim open new plants in Engels and Volsk, respectively.
The only playground I managed to see, near the building of the local administration
It would be fine if the French were to build an aerial railway across the Volga, which has been much discussed, or if the production of iPhones were started locally, which was discussed at one of the regional conferences, or if caviar production were to be organized, which was discussed more than once at different business events and was even shown on TV.
legislation officials are addressing people
The responsible person is known
We must move from talking at conferences and meetings to real activity and the implementation of what we have spoken about. For example, to clean the city of litter, to repair the pavements, to seal the manholes with lids, etc., and the main thing is to revive Saratov’s citizens’ belief that much is possible and there is way to achieve our goals... if there is the will.
…And still, maybe you, Mr Tepin, will be so kind as to answer our question as to why the city’s infrastructure is in such a bad state?
I am going to Saratov in the summer… again, with a camera, of course.
Alexander GUSEV, Director General of “Stroymedia” LLC.,
Editor-in chief of the Russian online journal, Construction.RU
A small step towards order
Of course, it is pleasant to see European tendencies in modern Saratov. For example, there is almost nowhere else in Russia where houses have dual numeration: both postal and cadastral. I have seen this in the Czech Republic and in Russia – in Saratov. Two systems of registration are moving closer, and though it is but a small step towards order in general, it is a step nevertheless.
Double registration of buildings like in Europe
The way it looks in Karlovy Vary
The citizens, though, would say that it would be better to start with hot water, repairs to the roads, pavement construction, clean porches, etc.
If we start creating order in the utilities sphere, why not start with cadastral registration?
I have much to say, but the photos say more than words.