Since the beginning of the year, 12 traffic accidents involving tank trucks have occurred in Kyrgyzstan. Nobody is aware of the amount of damage to the environment. The only way to reduce traffic accidents on mountain roads is to carry the fuel by rail. But it is necessary to agree on it with the neighbors.
Tank trucks collide every day
At least eight traffic accidents involving tank trucks took place in Kyrgyzstan in January. The damage amounted to at least 980,000 soms. The Deputy Prime Minister Dair Kenekeev voiced such data.
News about traffic accidents on mountain roads is like war tides. Tank trucks collide and turn over almost every day.
On January 13, four people were killed in Toktogul district of Jalal-Abad region in Chychkan gorge. The traffic accident occurred at the 253rd kilometer of Bishkek-Osh highway. Tank truck and Opel Zafira car collided on the road. Photos from the scene eloquently demonstrate that fuel had spilled onto the ground.
On January 16, a truck carrying diesel fuel overturned at the 386th kilometer of Bishkek — Osh road. The traffic accident occurred in Kara-Kul at about 2.23 pm. According to preliminary data, the driver lost control of the vehicle. The truck transported 37 tons of diesel fuel, 2 tons spilled onto the ground.
The largest traffic accident occurred on January 20. A tank truck with 38 tons of petroleum products fell into Chychkan river. About 2.6 tons of rainbow trout perished because of the fuel spill.
The authorities gathered urgent meetings, promised to take actions. But the traffic accident was forgotten along with the talks that something should be done with it.
Deputy Prime Minister Dair Kenekeev instructed to carry out a set of preventive measures with carriers of fuel and lubricants for compliance with technical and environmental safety to reduce the number of accidents involving heavy trucks and tank trucks. But the traffic accidents continue.
On February 6, a tank truck turned over at the 125th kilometer of Osh-Batken-Isfana road. The driver of Renault truck lost control of the vehicle, it pulled off the road and turned over. The heavy truck transported 40 tons of diesel fuel, which spilled onto the road.
One more traffic accident occurred the next day at the 364th kilometer of Bishkek-Osh highway. The driver of Howo tank truck lost control of the vehicle. It pulled off the road and tilted. The truck transported 37 tons of petroleum products. Rescuers pulled the car onto the road and emptied the cargo into another tank truck.
An accident involving a truck took place on the same day in Ak-Kulundu village, Naryn region. The driver lost control of the vehicle and it turned over. KamAZ transported 8 tons of gasoline and the same amount of diesel fuel.
A terrible traffic accident occurred over the weekend. A tank truck turned over and caught fire at the 238th kilometer of Bishkek-Osh road. It transported 25 tons of fuel. Two people were injured. Five fire teams were involved in extinguishing the fire.
Why does the south need so much fuel?
According to the Ministry of Transport and Roads, at present, fuel to the south of the country is delivered only by land transport — along Bishkek-Osh road. But this route is difficult, especially in winter.
The annual volume of the petroleum products market in Kyrgyzstan is estimated at 1.2 million tons. But the Association of Oil Traders can not say exactly how much fuel the south of the country needs.
«We do not trace consumption by regions of the country. But demand for fuel in the south is really great. There live more people,» Ulan Kulov, Director of Operations of the Association of Oil Traders, said in an interview with 24.kg news agency.
But there is another point of view. Users of social networks associate such a large volume of fuel transportation to the south with a banal smuggling to Tajikistan. The fuel is much more expensive there, and Kyrgyzstan receives gasoline and diesel from Russia without duties. The problem existed before Kyrgyzstan joined the Eurasian Economic Union and remained after it.
To prove this version, we can cite the fact that officials simply concealed the facts of the passage of trucks with fuel to Batken through Sosnovka post. The fuel trucks were overloaded, but they were not charged.
From August 12 to September 12, 2017, two trucks DAF and Volvo carried out four diesel fuel deliveries exceeding the permitted axle load from Chui to Batken region.
Employees of the transport control point Sosnovka in collusion with the drivers hid it. According to preliminary data, the damage to the budget was more than 400,000 soms. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. No one knows how much fuel is transported to Tajikistan and imported into Kyrgyzstan from Kazakhstan.
Everybody and nobody
After the accident in Chychkan gorge, environmentalists and the public started talking about the threat to nature, which heavy trucks with fuel pose. During each such traffic accident, tons of fuel spill onto the ground or into the water. Representatives of state structures leave for the scene, an investigation begins, but there are no real actions.
«Our service does not deal with it. When a traffic accident occurs with the participation of a tank truck, the specialists of our laboratory leave for the site, take samples and then transfer the information to the State Inspectorate for Environmental and Technical Safety. We do not have general data on the damage caused to the soil or water. Each case is considered individually,» the head of the State Agency for Environmental Protection and Forestry Abdykalyk Rustamov told 24.kg news agency.
But the State Ecological Inspectorate also does not take special measures. Yes, drivers are fined by court order. But there are no cardinal changes.
Over the past two years, Kyrgyzstan has experienced more than 20 traffic accidents involving tank trucks. According to ecologists, the damage to the water environment is estimated at least 1 million soms, fish farms — at 1.5 million.
«Indeed, fish died during the traffic accident in Chychkan gorge. We will take samples and will follow the development of the situation. But, according to preliminary data, pollution was not recorded in the Toktogul reservoir. After studying all the data, we will transfer the case to the court for recovery of the fine. As for the death of fish, samples were taken. We will file a separate claim for inflicting damage to the fishery,» Inspector Tynchtykbek Karagulov told 24.kg news agency.
In 2017, at least 22 accidents occurred due to the fault of drivers carrying dangerous goods. They killed 26 people and injured 34.
Employees of the Road Safety Department noted that one of the main causes of traffic accidents involving tank trucks is a technical malfunction of transport. But these vehicles must be inspected twice a year. It’s sad that most often the drivers of other cars suffer in such traffic accidents.
How to remove trucks from mountain roads?
Head of the State Agency for Environmental Protection and Forestry Abdykalyk Rustamov is sure that not only the Road Safety Department, but also the Ministry of Transport and Roads should deal with separate traffic accidents on the Bishkek-Osh road.
They often occur in the same place. Probably, the Transport Ministry should also look at the problem. Maybe there is some problem on the road.Abdykalyk Rustamov
Vice Prime Minister Dair Kenekeev instructed state bodies to consider the possibility of delivery of fuel to the south of the country by rail and work out with Uzbekistan the reduction of tariffs for the transportation of goods.
Director of Operations of the Association of Oil Traders Ulan Kulov told that suppliers are ready to carry fuel by rail. After all, once deliveries to the south were carried out exactly in this way.
«We used to transport goods by rail. But then the situation became more complicated: tariffs increased considerably, delays in deliveries arose. As a result, we had to switch to road transport,» Ulan Kulov said.
Now the problem began to be solved. It became possible to agree with Uzbekistan on significant discounts on the transit of goods.
In 2018, the Uzbek railways provided discounts of 20 percent for the transit of all cargoes passing through Uzbekistan to the southern regions of Kyrgyzstan and back. If cargo transportation along the route reaches 300,000 tons, the discount will reach 30 percent.
«We have already received this information. Now everything is being studied. But we have already sent letters to our oil traders to consider the possibility of carrying fuel from Russia by rail directly to the southern stations. I think this would be a good way out to reduce the load on the roads,» Ulan Kulov said.