Ashgabat, 24 October 2017 (nCa) — In the meeting of the Peoples Council, held on 9-10 October 2017, Turkmenistan took several steps to discourage wasteful habits as far as public utilities and services are concerned.
The Council decided unanimously to abolish free quotas of natural gas, electricity, and water to the population and introduce service charges for drainage service and garbage disposal, and heating systems. Most of these decisions will come into effect from 1 November 2017.
Even though hardly a couple of weeks have passed, some positive early results are in sight already.
The sector that is leading in positive public response is the heating system in urban areas.
The heating system, based on the soviet design but upgraded a bit since independence, is based on a boiler and pumping house located in each sub-area of the city, pumping hot water to the offices, houses and other buildings.
Every year, the people responsible for the maintenance of the heating system used to go door to door and check whether the system was working i.e. whether the hot weather was circulating through each apartment in each building, and whether the temperature was adequate to ensure proper heating during the winter.
Since the people were paying nothing for the heating system, the department was constrained by whatever budget it received from the city municipality.
The result was that many of the residents were dissatisfied with the heating service, and they disconnected from the network, relying instead on gas or electric heaters.
This year, around 15 October – less than a week from the Council decision to introduce charges for the heating services – the workmen started appearing in each locality, digging the trenches for new and better pipelines to facilitate stronger flow of hot water to the buildings.
Previously, the system worked on metallic pipes, some of which were buried in the ground and some were just placed above ground, with some insulation material wrapped around them to prevent the loss of heat during flow.
The portion that was above ground, even though insulated, led to considerable loss of heat. By the time the water reached the consumers, it had lost its zing.
This time around, the pipes are all buried in the ground.
Moreover, instead of metallic pipes that are subject to corrosion, these are polymer-based pipes, able to double as insulated material, and with a considerably long service life.
The work is being done in a mix of public-private partnership. The government provides the specialized vehicles and equipment, and the contractor brings expertise and skilled manpower. It is a partnership that actually delivers.
The work was done quickly and professionally, leaving no debris behind.
This has restored the confidence of the people in the heating system. Even though they are required to pay for this service now, the people are signing up for the heating system, even those who had opted out years ago.
Introducing the charges for this service, just like any other service, changes the provider-user dynamics. Since the people are paying for it, they will feel entitled to voice their concern if the service will not work to their satisfaction, and since the organization is being paid for this service by the people, it will be morally under higher obligation to address their concerns.
If more people are connected to the central heating system, it will lead to savings in the consumption of natural gas and electricity previously used for heating.
To be continued . . . /// nCa