I know that everybody is expecting me to do a review of the Metropolitan Opera production of Aida. And I will — oh I will indeed! Look for it early tomorrow morning. But for today’s post I need to finish up this less exciting but still very important story about the Ukrainian Central Heating system.
Where we left off, the Ukrainian government is attempting to economize by halting the centralized supply of hot water to their consumers. Once might even say, if one were a propagandist, that “The Ukrainian regime is freezing its own people!”
Vice President Gennady Zubko reckons the federal government can save a ton of money, especially in the area of annual prophylactics, repair, and replacement of water pipes. He recommends that Ukraine abandon the entire idea of centralized water supply and fall back on decentralized water supply: On a house-by-house basis [er, would that entail digging a well?], or perhaps by block, or perhaps by region. But definitely not an assumed “right to hot and cold running water” which people still harbor in regards to their central government. Zubko assures scared people that, for the time being, they will still get cold water in their pipes, and then they can boil it themselves, to make hot water!
This brilliant idea was supported by Vitaly Klichko, who bragged that he himself had purchased a lovely boiler for his Kiev Mayor’s Mansion. Klichko was confronted by an angry constituent who accused him of “turning off the hot water” for the residents of Kiev.
“Excuse me,” the ex-boxer replied joking. “What do you need to make cold water hot? You just need to heat it up. And how do we heat water? With gas. Of which we don’t have any now either, to be honest.”
A representative of the energy company Cherkassy-Obl-Energo disses the idea of everybody buying a boiler. He says that if the ЖКХ stopped delivering hot water in their pipes, then around 30% of Ukrainian consumers would be left without hot water, since they can’t afford a boiler. In today’s prices a boiler costs $160-180 dollars. That doesn’t sound like much, but it is, considering the average salary of a regular Ukrainian citizen. “How are they supposed to live without hot water in the winter, especially if they have small children?”
A representative of a different energy company, Kiev-Energo, adds that even those people who can afford a boiler, may be left without hot water. This is because the boiler requires electrical power, and many of these old, decaying buildings also have old, decaying electrical wires. If all the residents in a multi-apartment building suddenly switched their boilers on all at the same time — BOOM! Not only would the residents not get hot water, but they would lose everything else that they have: electricity, light, and use of the elevators.
Andrei Suzdaltsev, who works as Associate Dean of the Faculty of World Economy and Politics at the National Higher School of Economics, shrugs his shoulders and admits that there is no way out: All the complaining in the world cannot erase the fact that the Kiev government is broke. There is no money to reform the ЖКХ system; hence, it is inevitable that the burdens of daily life will pass from the government to the consumers.
On social media sites, Ukrainian commenters have come up with other creative ways of dealing with this crisis. Some suggest facetiously that the government should just pull out of all water-related infrastructure projects, such as canals and pipes. People can start bathing and washing in the rivers! If that was good enough for our ancestors…