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Why Are Promises Like Piecrust, Made to be Broken or When Will They Actually Restrain Traffic on Andreyevskiy Descent?

Anton Glivinskiy 25.12.2015

In May 2012 ESTA Holding promised to participate in building the pedestrian infrastructure of the Andreyevskiy Descent. The promise included the rehabilitation of the stairs leading to the Zamkova Mountain, creating the tourist navigation system on the Andreyevskiy Descent and installation of traffic restriction items – bollards, in order to remove once and for all this huge number of cars the street is full of despite the prohibitive signs.

It was the easiest thing of all to fulfil the first promise: we opened the rehabilitated stairs in January 2013. Although, for the sake of justice, we should mention that the rehabilitation cost is still on the balance of our company, for there is nobody to assign it to. No municipal service wants to take the extra responsibility. The second promise – tourist navigation signs installation – proved to become complicated. Igor Skliarevskiy, the famous Kiev designer of public spaces, created the comfortable, and at the same time not conflicting with the general perception of the Andreyevskiy, tourist navigation. However, because of the need to receive multiple permits from government officials and lack of any constructive dialogue from their side, the project remained in the blueprint stage.

And finally, let us talk about the traffic restriction in the Andreyevskiy – the installation of bumper posts.

Since August 2014 the government officials of different ranks have been promising to restrict the traffic “just in two weeks”, by the end of September 2014, by the beginning of spring 2015, by the Day of Kiev, by July 2015, by the Independence Day, in October 2015. Being a representative of the balance-holding company (read as owner) of the installed bumper posts, I would like to declare that with such an approach the traffic on the Descent will never be restricted, however bad we’d want that.

In the reality, we can tell this sad story from the very beginning. It should be mentioned that, minuscule attempts as to this project at least started since the appointing of a new major. Before that the wish of ESTA Holding to give the necessary equipment to the city as a present was of none interest at all. In July 2014 Vitaliy Klichko delivered  an extensive meeting dedicated to the prospective of the Andreyevskiy Descent development, and set a task before the heads of the dedicated departments and Podil District State Administration to install the bumper posts within two months. Our conditions of participation in the project were as follows: obligatory public hearings, transparent procedure of the bumper post management by the city authorities, assignment the equipment to the city balance right after the installation. After the series of meetings and promises “to assist/promote/do all the things possible” we understood that if we wanted a result, we had to do it ourselves.

We asked the rabid Descent protectors for assistance, we organized two-staged hearings in the Podil District State Administration with the street inhabitants and employees of companies having offices in the street. During the meeting we tried to account for all the interests and elaborated preliminary set of rules for access to keys and management of the equipment. After that we agreed that the remote control of the equipment should be performed by officers from the Podil District State Administration, which would allow avoiding the traffic letting in for a “symbolic amount” by the bribed console dispatcher in situ. It made the project more expensive and created some hardships with connection and operation of cameras. Luckily, with the involvement of some experts from Ukrtelecom Company we were able to resolve this challenge quickly and efficiently – in order to minimize the system maintenance cost after the bumper posts’ assignment on the city balance, we laid a new optical fibre cable in the Descent.

The Andreyevskiy protecting activists elaborated rules for the use of the bumper posts by means of a long-lasting public dialogue. The rules should soon be shaped into the set of provisions of the Podil District State Administration and subject to public discussion. It’s been already several months that we, together with activists, have failed to make this key step. Now it is the Traffic Police that has something against the bumper posts, requiring either clarifications from the Ministry of Regional Development or a letter from the Derzhspozhyvstandart (State Consumer Standard) organization which was eliminated back in 2010.

Generally, the government’s attitude to benefactors and investors is a separate issue. The entire system acts in a way so that any do-something-for-the-city initiative goes punished. We felt the want-to-do-anything-for-the-city-just-pay-for-it-more-and-more approach not only during the bumper posts installation project but also at the rehabilitation of the passage through Khreschatyk Street. Having won the tender for the passage rehabilitation and wishing to remove all the retail points, thus, returning the initial destination to it, we have still been unable to sign the investment agreement, for the government keeps setting forward new requirements, making the cost of the project increase several-fold. When it comes to our requests to install several small promotion spaces for the TSUM (Central Department Store being under rehabilitation by our company) in order at least somehow to reimburse the ever-increasing cost for the rehabilitation works, they cause only motives for blackmail and demands to finance something.

So, let us come back to the Andreyevskiy issue, with the bumper posts installed, dispatcher console system set up and the minuscule issue remaining – make the entire thing work. To do that we need to obtain permits from the Traffic Police, run the final stage of public hearings and assign the project on the balance of the city, in order to eventually connect the system to the power source.

However, the Traffic Police’s idea is that the bumper posts should not be installed in the Descent at all; the thing is that there are traffic prohibition signs all along the street, and that is totally enough to prevent the traffic. It seems that only people who never went to streets or having a direct interest in the Descent’s remaining the street for traffic transit/parking can have such ideas.

The worst thing is in the total unwillingness to take the system on balance, and bear the responsibility for it. Unless it happens, the system will not work. As the traffic in one of the most popular city streets can be restricted by city authorities only, but not by a private company.

As far back as 2002 I had a great chance to work as a hospital attendant in Artek, the one of the biggest children’s camps in Ukraine. The number of roommates in a hostel amounted up to 20 (with the rated number being 12). It is natural that in such a big company there were mems appearing. And it is from those times that one of my favouring sayings come from, being “As a fella jump in, he shall jump out”. So, we “jumped in” a project of the pedestrian infrastructure improvement for the city three years ago. For these three years the project cost has increased from UAH 800 thousand to UAH 3 million. We could have done some more good for the city if we had “jumped out” in due time… sadly, but the system is not customised to the result but to promises.

Anton Glivinskiy’s column for segodnya.ua

Anton Glivinskiy
Anton Glivinskiy

PR and Communications Director