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Dilapidated, dirty Bishkek: Engulfed in bureaucracy City Hall ignores residents

Residents of Bishkek daily complaint to city officials about poor-quality roads, sidewalks, tree planting and many other problems.

The townspeople point to the shortcomings in the improvement of the capital and try to draw the attention of the relevant services. The capital’s City Hall traditionally responds to them, using formal replies: «We will take measures, wait.»

People are waiting. For years.

24.kg news agency journalist tried to figure out why the local authorities are inactive, ignoring the signals.

Cry from the heart

Bishkek residents appeal to 24.kg news agency almost every day asking for help: sidewalks are crumbling in the very center of the city, holes are formed on the roads, there are illegal parking, unauthorized trade, unsanitary conditions ... The list of problems is endless.

For example, one of the readers has been asking the authorities since May last year to repair the crumbling sidewalk at the intersection of Chui Avenue and Osmonkul Street, which fell into disrepair several years ago.

«This is practically the center of the city, but the crumbling sidewalk is, apparently, considered the norm. Children fall and stumble there, but no one pays attention to the problem. Help me to reach out to officials,» he wrote.

The City Hall hastened to justify themselves: the specified area will be repaired in April. According to Bishkekasfaltservice municipal enterprise, the repair of the sidewalk on Chui Avenue from Abdrakhmanov to Kurmanjan Datka Street was included in the list for 2021. Repairs will begin at the beginning of the second quarter of this year.

However, the City Hall’s answers are not always encouraging. A resident of Ak-Orgo residential area complained about dirt and slush on the roads, which have been causing inconvenience for 30 years — it is impossible to walk there every spring and autumn.

«We have been living in the lower part of Sadykov Street for 30 years. A sewer system was laid, then we were provided with gas, and the water pipes were replaced. Imagine what happens to the roads after all this. The City Hall stated that the road is planned to be repaired this year, allegedly, it has already been covered with rubble. But there hasn’t been any backfill for 30 years,» the reader wrote.

The officials reacted quickly to this complaint, but there is no reason to rejoice. There are no plans to repair roads in this residential area this year.

Complaints without response

It’s not just the crumbling and terrible sidewalks that concern the townspeople. Unauthorized (mobile) fast food outlets began to appear in the city. You can see them in parks, on squares, near monuments. Some citizens manage to sell apples even near the White House.

Mobile fast food outlet has been operating at the railway station in Bishkek for more than two months. Most likely, it works without any permits.

The mobile fast food outlet, the reader said, is installed right next to the pedestrian alley, right behind the carriageway.

«This fast food is not only unauthorized, it also obscures the view of vehicles moving southward. There are always a lot of children on Erkindik Boulevard, including small ones. If one of the drivers turns out to be a reckless one, trouble is inevitable,» a reader wrote.

Bishkek City Hall ignored the signal — the fast food outlet is still working and unlikely pays taxes.

Complaints about unauthorized amusement rides and leisure-time entertainments continue. From time to time, the City Hall of Bishkek reports on the fight against spontaneous trade and unauthorized amusement rides, but all attempts of city officials are ineffective. Street trade with all its dirt and unsanitary conditions has been winning over the years.

On February 6, 24.kg news agency told and showed how the central streets of the capital were filled with dirty, ugly and illegal objects of spontaneous trade and various boxing, slot machines.

«The journalists wrote, told, but, apparently, the City Hall ignored the signal. While walking on the weekend, we saw all these unauthorized objects in the same place — right next to the White House, where our deputies are sitting. Is the City Hall sabotaging or is it helpless? » the reader asked.

However, the power holders have not responded to these aspirations in any way since February.

The press service of the City Hall told 24.kg news agency that they give answers as they get reports from city services, there is no point in hiding information.

«It is easier to clarify the production plan of Bishkeksvet or Bishkekasfaltservice and respond than to check documents — it takes longer. We will answer every request, don’t worry,» the City Hall assured.

Outdated system

The disintegrated management system has led to the fact that all municipal services have different budgets and capabilities. Because of this, some services cannot repair roads, while others have funds for fitness trackers. On February 13, it became known about the plans of the administration of the Sverdlovsky district of Bishkek to purchase 250 fitness trackers. A corresponding announcement for half a million soms then appeared on the public procurement website.

The City Hall explained later that the district administration’s tender for the purchase of 250 fitness trackers was announced for the purchase of gifts for the International Women’s Day on March 8 for honorary residents and activists of the district.

Activist Atai Samybek believes that the main problems of the capital’s authorities are the lack of money or its ineffective distribution and use.

«There are no spare funds for additional costs and maintenance / operation of urban infrastructure. There is no detailed design, pre-design study and competently drawn up feasibility studies. Decisions are made superficially, subjectively. There are many tasks for specialists which are vague and incomprehensible. There is a lot of unnecessary bureaucracy and paperwork, lack of qualified personnel,» he said.

Some municipal officials, on condition of anonymity, complained about corruption and outdated standards in the system.

«Bishkasfaltservice is in charge of the sidewalks and roads. The problem is corruption, which was brought about by the former head of the enterprise. He practically privatized the institution. Parks, sidewalks and other works were carried out without projects, Construction Standards, Regulations and norms are outdated. It can also be noted that investors or developers often ask to give them permission to build a particular facility. At the same time, they offer their assistance in the development of the city in the field of improvement and so on. But this «help» goes into private hands. Officials work for themselves,» Atai Samybek quotes the current employees of the capital’s City Hall as saying.

Experts assure that apart from these problems, there are no building and land use rules in Bishkek. Corruption is rapidly developing because of this, as well as an opaque decision-making system, development of public spaces, and deterioration in the quality of the urban environment.

In a word, there is a mess.

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