Sunday, 24 June

Leaking Roofs, Watery Basements: Ararat City Residents Complain About Municipality’s Indifference

More than a dozen apartment building entrances in the Zod neighborhood of Ararat city are filled with sewage.

Residents say that drinking water is being mixed with sewage because of the rotten pipes. Their tap water often tastes "strange".

Most of the building roofs in Ararat are also in poor condition, they say, and need immediate repair. But residents are not able to solve either of these problems on their own. The municipality's efforts have been poor so far.

Mosquitoes and leaking roofs

Gegham Kostanyan, a resident of Building 1 in the Araratyan district, shows us his apartment on the fifth floor which he cannot renovate on his own.

The apartment is currently empty, but when his wife’s son gets married the couple will have to move into the apartment.

However, he doesn’t know how to repair the roof. There are too many expenses. He shows the almost non-existent plaster on the ceiling and says that he comes up here every time it rains, to prevent water leaking into his neighbors’ houses.

If Gegham is at least physically able to do the repair work, his sightless neighbor Zhirayr Avetisyan cannot. The 64-year-old is being taken care of by his wife, Sona. The Avetisyans have put pots in all the corners of their one room apartment to catch the rainwater.

Heavy rains have been added to their list of natural enemies, along with hot summers without drinking water and countless mosquitoes. The roof leaks when it rains. The foul humid stench overpowers the couple for days to come.

Zod’s Banavan district never receives guests

In Zod’s Banavan district, sewage has collected in the basements of scores of buildings. The water has already weakened their foundations. The spreading stench becomes unbearable in the apartments and yards, especially during the hot Ararat summers, accompanied by tons of mosquitos and scarcity of drinking water.

Residents aren’t sure whether the water collected in the basements is a consequence of rotten pipes or groundwater. Although they insist that the buildings have become dangerous to live in, they do not know whether an attempt has been made by the municipality to assess the extent of the risk.

Building 11 resident Ofelya Mnatsakanyan shows us to her basement where they’ve placed some boards to walk on to reach the jars of preserves lined up on the shelves. She says she’s probably the one who has complained to the municipality the most.

“We’re raising a family. Kids are growing up in this building. We’ve sent a soldier off to the army. Is this situation tenable?” Mnatsakanyan asks.

Her daughter-in-law Karineh is sick and soon will be operated on. But in these conditions, when even papers on the table get wet within a couple of minutes from the humidity, it’s difficult to imagine a person recovering.

“I ask that you help us resolve this problem,” says Ofelya, gazing into the camera lens and directing her plea to the government.

8-year-old Mayis shows us a mossy ditch in the basement of Building 9, saying that they are afraid to play ball because it can get lost by falling in.

Women say that in the past at least people from the municipality would come to spray against flies and mosquitoes. That no longer happens.  

Residents show us the incline of the building, visible to the naked eye, and the cracks in the staircase, saying that the building has become unsafe. They can neither live in it, nor sell their apartments. Even their relatives do not visit them here now. Many residents are complaining of joint pains.

Residents escorted us to a recently constructed park with a fountain nearby. One of the young women says, “What good is the fountain to me if I have to live like this? It’s as if they are mocking us.”  

The situation in the kindergarten located nearby is the same as in the buildings. Hetq was told that despite the renovation, water was still collecting in the basement. There are also questions being raised about just how clean the school’s dishware can be if washed with such water.

Nobody from the kindergarten replied to these questions posed by Hetq, saying that the head and deputy head were out at the time.

Ararat Deputy Mayor Khachatur Mnatsakanyan tracked us down after learning about Hetq’s visit from one of the residents. “You should have come to us. We would have provided a guide to you to show you around,” he said.

When asked about solving the above issues, Mnatsakanyan said that two days ago municipality workers came to assess the Zod buildings and work on the project draft had already been initiated.

They plan to spend 100-130 million AMD to restore the basements of Buildings 11-13. The precise amount will be known when the draft is finalized.

Residents don’t know whether to believe the deputy mayor or not. They have no choice but to wait and see.

They want the municipality to first find out the origin of the water collecting in the basement to avoid unnecessary expenses.

It is also necessary to assess the risk degree of accident-prone buildings, and, if needed, to relocate residents of this district as quickly as possible.


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