Housing maintenance and utilities in Sverdlovsk Region can get out of control, says Sverdlovsk Communal Networks

Unless Russia adopts a new scheme for charging for housing maintenance, the regional problems in the field might simply get out of control, says Vyacheslav Prakin, General Director of Sverdlovsk Communal Networks.

According to Mr. Prakin, the shamefully low wages of people who provide services to Sverdlovsk Region’s city-dwellers have brought the whole system to the verge of a collapse. The power suppliers of Severouralsk, for instance, are ready to go on strike in order to protect their rights and their families. Other towns are hardly doing any better. Skilled workers and young professionals have been fleeing the industry since 2005, yet, given the miserable wages, one cannot even try to keep them.

Another problem (which is just as vital) is extremely scarce depreciation funding. Mr. Prakin believes these sums are five to fifteen times below the necessary amount (depending on the area). This means that the worn-out equipment is falling apart, and the companies have no money to put up new facilities or upgrade the ones they have. Pervouralsk, to name just one, needs 129 million RUR rather that the 20 million it has been getting through the current tariffs. And this will be the local population that will be most affected by the inevitable equipment breakdowns.

Mr. Prakin says a power supplier cannot carry the burden of these expenses forever, so, sooner or later, it will have to stop operating in such poorly funded areas, and this will give a hard time to the region’s mayors.

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