Well, we’ve got four years of fun under out belts now and to say it’s been interesting is like calling a 200 kilo rabbit mildly horizontally challenged.
The biggest news is by the end of this year the Kerch Bridge should be in operation for vehicular traffic. As it is now, the work vehicles can drive from Kaman to Kerch across the bridge. I do not know if the bridge will be a toll system but I would aver that security will be tight none the less. Rail traffic is scheduled to commence at the end of 2019. A large road system is being built on the Krimea end that will go from Kerch to Sevastopol, plans show it will be 4 lane for the whole distance. That will eliminate the nightmare of going through Simferopol and the long sections of the old two lane from that charming berg to Kerch that were simply not there, nothing left but the roadbed 3 years ago.
Sanctions, which seem to be added weekly, are a pain for we ordinary workers and peasants but it does not affect ‘them’ in the least. We lack for nothing in this city and this island but there seems to always be one or two companies who cease to provide their products to this AO, be it various types of thread and fabrics for sewing (my wife embroiders quite a lot), some brands of prepackaged food and such. As far as the locals are concerned, the cut off of trade is their problem, not ours. I won’t tell you how foolish, no, let’s be honest, stupid and childish, sanctions are but suffice it to say that after living under the orc thumb for 30 years,the locals are resourceful.
Local prices have gone up 25% on just about anything. At first the locals were aghast, they were used to the orc method of business, in other words taxes were rarely collected officially but the local PTB would visit various shops on a rotating list, and those who should have the the lists do have those lists, and collect a little something off the books. Shops and businesses that did not pay or could not pay were visited by various health and safety functionaries until they paid or went under. Now all businesses with the exception of the babushki selling fruits at their roadside tables have to collect taxes and they do collect. That’s 20% of the 25% the increase right there but try explaining that to some of the locals, and not so locals.
Heavy supplies, such as lumber finished or raw, appliances, building materials such as roofing, drywall, plywood and such, the prices in some shops are outlandish. The funny thing is, and we witnessed it first hand this past summer, these shops with the idiotic prices will tell you with a straight face that the same product from the same company in Krasnodar Krai (right across the straights from Kerch) on the mainland costs three quarters to half the price they are trying to hawk the goods for here. When I asked why the excuse, identical almost word for word at four different shops, was shipping was ‘expensive’ and just the cost of transporting a heavy truck across the straights was $1000 each way. OK, says I, so on a large tractor trailer rig with $50,000 of goods at cost that’s an extra 4%, assuming the truck goes back empty which rarely happens. Don’t tell me the cost of running that truck from Kerch to Sevastopol will double the total expense when the truck originated in Olmsk according to the product we were interested in. So, I asked them politely where the heck was the other 96% of the increase coming from. Oddly, they could not answer that query. We left, got on the phone and called a local company and asked if they had the product. Answer was yes, just got it in. Cost? Normal price, same as on the mainland. And it don’t cost $1000 to run a heavy truck across the straights on the ferries, not hardly.
Infrastructure is undergoing massive repair and upgrade for the last two years. The new thermal power plant near Inkerman will be on line this spring if not earlier. Siemens, they are done with business in this berg and this island after their little temper tantrum of last summer, don’t matter who ordered them to wet their pampers, they are done. If a product has ‘Siemens’ on it, any shop will tell you it don’t sell and won’t sell and most shops got rid of what they had within minutes of the start of the tantrum. Siemens showed their total hypocrisy, as did Germany, when not a word was said when the orcs cut electric to Krim in the dead of winter, rather conveniently the day after a $3 million advance payment was made for the next month’s electric, but Siemens/Germany had a lot to say about the turbine generators, made in Russia by the by, when they were brought to Krim and Sevastopol.
The six massive, and that’s an understatement, diesel generators in Inkerman, installed within days of the orcs blowing down the electric feed from orcland, are still doing yeoman service, on line as needed summer and winter. It is my understanding that even when the new TPP goes on line they will stay in place for the foreseeable future, just in case.
Power supply infrastructure and grid is being renovated almost 24/7.The electric grid, all of which was destroyed during the war and rebuilt in the 1950s, is being upgraded as fast as possible. Long gone are the weekly and sometimes daily power outages from aging equipment blowing. The orcs did precisely zero maintenance to any part of the grid since 1990 and going in to the various sub and not so sub stations was like a tour of 1930’s equipment that belonged in a museum right down to fabric wrapped wire, almost all of which was aluminium. Substations are being totally modernized with the latest equipment, all made in Russia. As far as the physical grid, read wiring, I will not live long enough to see all of it renovated. Yes, the main feeds and subsidiary feeds are being replaced and upgraded, but the individual feeds coming off the substations to houses, flats buildings and many businesses are the stuff of legend, often a rats nest of wiring that seems to have no real plan or focus.
Water supply is also being upgraded and modernized. As far as our little village is concerned, we have not had a water outage for three years that was not announced in advance and was due to repairs and improvements. Water is still not grand but I must say that in orc times my primary house filter needed replacing every four weeks. It’s a German system that in theory is good for 10,000 liters of water per filter. Methinks we don’t use quite that much in a few weeks but now the filter is good for three months. Main problem is rust from old, but serviceable, pipes, that and the water is hard enough to drive nails in. And yes, we have a 5 stage membrane filter for drinking and cooking water.
Roads could be called a horror show. The first 18 months of freedom we still had the old orc infrastructure and personnel for whatever reason, not the least of which was there was no one to take their place. Tons of money was dropped down the rat hole of ‘road repair’ and the only result was the roads around our reservoir in the foothills of the mountains had lovely new and repaired roads going to the summer palaces of the old, and new, PTB. As an aside, according to orc records almost all the roads and major streets in this village were repaved and repaired in the last 10 years. We still laugh at that deal.
In the last two years several major and not so major road projects have either been completed or are well advanced. The three major roads in City Center, Lenina, Naxhimova and Bolshoi Morskaya, have been completely renovated. The one major 4 lane road going south to eventually Balaklava, General Ostryakov Street, has just completed a major rebuild out to 5th Kilometer market where it ties in to the one road project the orcs completed which goes to Yalta Ring. Rudnyeva Street from Ostryakov out to Myccon Mall and beyond that to past University is also repaved. In addition, Industrialna, Shabalina, Fiolentsovska, Khrustalova, 4a Bastionna, Mykoly Muzyky, Vakulenchuka, Pravdy, Geroi Stalingradu, Geroi Sevastopoleh, General Melnika, Gorpuschenka, Istomina and Kolovskogo streets have been paved and/or rebuilt and that is not all. Quite the effort in the last 18 or so months. In essence someone finally had a thought and the traffic in City Center and the feeds in to and out of center are much better. Solving the parking problem in City Center is a horse of a different colour.
And (trumpets blaring in the skies) someone finally remembered there are a few people living on the north side of the harbour. Thanks to the efforts of our local rep Aleksandr Andrei’vich, the main drag, Bogdanova, has been repaired from foundation up. Nekrasova, Tsiolkovskogo, Chelyuskintsev to Simonka intersection, Pereyasklavska, Prymorska and Bratska are finished and Cerafymovka is about 50% complete. Now, if they can do Levanevskogo from Simonka down to Zakharov Square and the car ferry landing and Zhaporiz’ka down to the beach, we’re phat on our side of the ditch, well, almost. Still got to figure a way to keep the summer plague of tourists out of our little piece of heaven on north side short of barbed wire and mines. Hmmmm……
Administratively, things are running quite smoothly. Russian Bureaucracy is, and always will be, convoluted and Byzantine but at least now, with most of the leftover orcs gone, things are a bit more friendly and helpful. Pretty much gone is the old orc attitude of ‘what do you want, I’m busy’, now it’s ‘how can I help you’. What a welcome change, that and the fact that all government offices that interact with the public in any way have a little round orb on the ceiling over each desk. The orb is a camera and the days of an outstretched hand for a bride in the actual offices are gone. I’m sure bribes do change hands, and there’s enough functionaries getting nailed to a cross to prove this, but this foolishness no longer affects we ordinary workers and peasants.
Socially, we are still over run with tens of thousands of carpetbaggers for whom there is little love lost. Around 1st May the first tourists arrive and by late February, if not before, just about everything in this village in the way of accommodations is booked for the season, read end of October. The streets of this berg were not designed for the massive amount of vehicles extant now, it was originally a closed Navy town. It will be impossible to do much with City Center without tearing half the area down, so that’s not going to happen. We avoid anything remotely close to City Centrr from 10 May through October unless we can do what is needed on the weekend when that area is fairly deserted. Otherwise, we take the ‘bypass’ from Yalta Ring west to Fiolent ring and get where we need to go as needed.
All in all, things are coming together. Still plenty of problems, not the least of which is massive and illegal constructions from Kacha down to Balaklava and everywhere in between in the shore areas. Nothing seems to stop them, not even court decisions and the odd snarl from Moskau. We’ve got massive work yet to be done in all parts of infrastructure but it will be done. We’ve got plenty of problems to solve and this will happen. I won’t live long enough to see this city, both sides, brought up to where it should be, but I do see vast improvement compared to 2014 when this was a potholed warren of administrative and business areas with no rhyme or reason as to who was where and doing what. The future does look pretty good and we do have peace here which is never a bad thing.
Auslander is the author of
Never The Last One http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ZGCY8KK A Deep Look In To Russia, Her Culture And Her Armed Forces
An Incident On Simonka https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01ERKH3IU NATO Is Invited To Leave Sevastopol, One Way Or The Other.
Coming in days: Blue Cloud