Will there be enough light for the jubilee?
This year, which is a jubilee for our city, one is tempted to dream about its bright future. Exactly bright, because despite many positive changes in Almaty, there are problems in the most important area - the energy supply.
Well, are there only these problems? There are transport, ecological, and many other problems. And the jubilee is a good reason to resolve at least part of them.
As they managed to do it, for example, in Northern Russian capital last year. St-Petersburg was preparing for the 300th jubilee for three years and no matter what they said about a light cosmetic repair of the facades and fast made Potyomkin villages, Petersburg people and guests of the capital could see during the jubilee holidays how the city became prettier, how many historical places of interest, monuments, buildings, and roads had been reconstructed, how the communal sphere had been improved in some areas. The city received additional financial investments with the help of which it managed to do that.
We started to talk about the 150th anniversary of Almaty relatively recently and nobody has mentioned the allocation of special funds so far. It seems that they made Almaty people understand: they have to have fun at their own expense. But they are used to it. It is well-known that with the annual collection of taxes totalling up to two hundred billion tenge the city receives only fifty billion, the rest comes into the budget of the country, which has only one such powerful financial megapolis.
New districts, which earlier were part of the oblast are being "presented" to the same city lately. But no additional budget funds are granted to the city together with the land and society. Lately, 3.5 thousand hectares were added to the city, with residential areas, schools, medical institutions, and all this, as a rule, in a condition that far from blossoming. In a word, the costs are growing, the profits - not.
However, there will be the holiday, of course, and not only the 150th anniversary of Verniy, but also the thousandth anniversary of first historical settlement there. The historical centre of the city, will be restored, as well as the governor's house destroyed by fire in 1995, in which the museum of history and culture of Almaty will be located in honour of the jubilee. The city patriots dream of restoring the Verniy fortress and the Sophia temple.
And meanwhile the akimat of Almaty announced that the city will receive two big plants as gifts. One for production of baby food, another one for processing hard domestic waste. The last one is especially required. This year 20 more KamAZ trucks were bought in addition to the existing ten and a thousand containers for waste collection. At the new plant the first production line of which will be commissioned this year, all hard domestic waste of the megapolis will be sorted and pressed. In total four lines must be commissioned to resolve the "garbage" problem completely. 440 thousand tons - that much is "produced" by the Southern capital and the utilisation of that volume became a big ecological problem, because burning waste does not add any fresh air.
Another problem - the transport one - is unlikely to be resolved this year. But, according to Victor Khrapunov, at a meeting with Medeu district residents, we have come very close to the beginning of constructing monorail and completing the first branch line of underground, an agreement with an American company has been reached. If both projects are realised, every day up to five hundred thousand Almaty residents will be transported by those types of transport.
The construction of motorway junctions will be continued, which, alas, is much slower, than the quantity of transport in the city. Only the second junction, after the airport one, is being constructed, while in total eighteen of them are needed to unburden the road traffic. Judging from today speed, twenty years will be needed for realising this project. Besides a construction of a ring motorway around Almaty is planned to take all trucks out of it.
In a word, the plans are bright and grand. Many of them are related with investment policies, with financial investments of companies, which will be able to receive some dividends afterwards. Alas, the situation is different with the energy supply. At least, in that part that concerns the distribution of electric energy. There are no problems with light in Almaty for a long time, the electric energy is enough. But when it is transported further to institutions, houses and other facilities, difficulties begin. In many neighbourhoods the voltage is very low, people complain that domestic electric utensils, which modern apartments are crammed with, don't function well, light switches off in evenings and nights, which is a nonsense for a modern man in such city.
The point is that during the last fifteen years the transformer stations were virtually not renewed at all, the APC (Almaty Power Consolidated) explains. Many of them are worn out for a long time and require replacement. But the APC does not possess such money. Belgians, after having made a lot of noise, jus evaporated, seemingly convinced that the huge management received by them was far from blossoming and demanded big investments. Other investors were not found and the electric supply is again the city property.
Meanwhile the APC last year exceeded in the level of consumption all past years, even those, when big industrial enterprises were operating in the city at their full capacity. The consumption made almost five billion kilowatt hours. Such growth is due to the increased construction of housing and appearing small facilities of medium and small business, as well as consumption of new electric utensils by for new apartments.
And at the same time, with a growing capacity and loads, no network construction was carried out, lines were not extended, the substations from which local areas are fed were not renewed. Therefore - overcharges and faults.
It is quite expensive to build up new transforming substations, each of them costing more than one million dollars. Nevertheless, one of them has been completed this year in Taugul neighbourhood at the expense of electric networks and budget funds (it was built for ten years), two more are planned to be constructed, which is supposed to improve the electric power supply in the centre of the city.
Currently a programme of developing the city electric supply and heating by 2020 is prepared. It already means the "light in the end of the tunnel". But we must live here and now. So, we have to wait only for the end of winter, when evenings are bright even without electricity, when the voltage is lower and switches-off and voltage faults cease.
It's good that the city jubilee is due to take place in autumn, when there is enough light.