Mayor to pay for damage caused by potholes

  • By chagy5
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  • 2024-04-05
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Mayor to pay for damage caused by potholes

If the car is damaged due to potholes, the local administration is supposed to pay for the damage. This means that drivers have the right to compensation for damages caused by roads with bad quality. Section 35.2 of the Law on Autoroads stipulates that “If a legislative organization confirms damage is caused, legal entity due to noncompliance of auto road and road structure exploitation, the road manager and proprietor shall pay compensation for damage”. According to the law, the owner of the highway is the local governor. A road operator is a state-owned or privately-owned company that has a special license to perform maintenance and repair. Unfortunately, citizens do not often go to court with such complaints, and are left to repair the damage by themselves. The reason for this is that it takes time to apply to the law enforcement agency, it takes a long time and money to go through many steps and stages, and there is a lot of delay. That’s how you end up repairing your broken car with your own money. But don’t give up. Citizens should exercise their rights, remind the related local administrations to repair the damaged roads, which is creating damages, and remind the administration to do their work. Otherwise, it seems that the people who are responsible for maintaining and repairing the roads regularly are not going to do their job. The roads in Ulaanbaatar City are expected to become “hell” and many people’s cars to be damaged. There is a risk that citizens are going to pay for the consequences of broken roads with their property and even their lives. It can be seen from the information and data provided by the police that there are still accidents and injuries due to the road.


Did road development go back 20 years?


Almost all of the roads operating in Ulaanbaatar City need to be fixed. As the weather warms, the snow and ice are melting right away, exposing the gaping holes in the road. Melted snow and ice are flowing down the streets, mixing with the city’s sewage. Citizens started to post on their social media channels saying that “City roads are damaged like never before. It was like this in the 2000s”. The Governor of the Capital City and Mayor of Ulaanbaatar, Kh.Nyambaatar also admitted that “all the roads in Ulaanbaatar are badly damaged”. The main reason that led to this situation is that in recent years, especially in the last eight years when Mongolian People’s Party took the lead of the capital city, proper roads were not built and significant repairs and services were not performed. It is true that they have been deceiving in the name of renovation. For example, in 2021, when D.Sumiyabazar was working as the governor, the maintenance workers had done nothing, but poured something mysterious from the kettle and were filling the broken roads. The public may remember that there was no technological progress in the road repair work, it was not developing, it was even backward. It seems like this kind of indifference and careless attitudes of the leaders has delayed the development of the road by more than 20 years.


Will 300 billion MNT be spent on roads?


However, the Governor of the Capital City and Mayor of Ulaanbaatar, Kh.Nyambaatar is considering the bad and severe weather as the culprit of the road damage. He said, “Last year, it rained a lot. This winter, it snowed a lot, therefore the substances to melt the ice on roads to prevent slippery and icy roads were spread in a massive amount. Also, the road was damaged due to the sudden hot and cold temperatures”. It is usual to experience snow and rain in the city. Also, the process of temperature swings, or seasonal changes, lasts from year to year. Taking into account all of this, it is the responsibility of the city management and relevant officials to decide how to maintain and repair the road. However, it is pointless or absurd to pretend that it has been destroyed by heavy rain or snow without doing the work. 

Moreover, when the citizens shared their opinions, “The city road is a bit too much. Please fix it quickly” and kh.Nyambaatar gave an answer with a huge amount of numbers and money. He said, “If we want to completely renew and improve the roads, about 300 billion MNT is needed for maintenance and additional paving. Only about 35 billion MNT is included in this year’s budget to be spent on road maintenance”. This raised suspicions that the mayor might “change” the budget again by saying it is for road repairs. On the other hand, it is doubtful whether he really did any calculations, or whether he just told the numbers that suddenly popped into his head. The city management has allocated 35.6 billion MNT in the budget to replace the road around the central square with granite. It is hard to believe that the leaders who work without research in this way really calculated 300 billion MNT.


Road Development Department with no idea about roads


When it was asked from the capital city’s Road Development Department last Thursday and inquired whether there was a plan to repair the road or not, the officials said, “When the snow on the road was just melting and it snowed again. Therefore, it is not yet possible to determine the amount of roads that need to be repaired. Our engineers are working on the spot. After that, the damage will be determined and everything will be fixed”. In other words, they had no calculation, no study or research, and no solution.

But after just one day, they have found a solution. “This year, it is planned to repair and renew roads in 17 locations in the capital. Also, as part of the work to reduce traffic congestion and increase the road network, we are implementing a project to build roads and road facilities in 31 locations”. This is not a sign that the government agencies are working quickly, but it is a sign that they have become very obedient as the election approaches. The senior specialist at the capital city’s Road Development Department, B.Ganbat said, “In 2024, 19.5 km of highways are planned to be repaired and upgraded in 17 locations in six districts with the funds of the capital’s road fund. For example, the roads that have not been repaired for a long time will be renovated and improved, such as roads from the east four intersections to ‘Narantuul’ market, and from Botanic to Uliastai Bridge”. He further said that, “The tender for repairing and upgrading the road will be held, the contractor will be selected and the contract will be signed. It is planned to start the road repair and maintenance from April 10, and continue until November 20”. If we look at the actual situation, the above-mentioned 19.5 km road is very insufficient comparing it to the total length of roads in Ulaanbaatar. This number makes up less than two percent of the capital city’s total 1,350 kilometers long road. 


Where does tax money go?


The World Bank has set the total value of Ulaanbaatar’s roads at 1.5 trillion MNT. If the road is not repaired and serviced every year, not only this number will go high but also the traffic will increase year by year. In order to prevent such risks, and to travel on quality roads, car owners pay a fee every year. It means that people are still traveling on poor quality roads and their property is being damaged even though they have paid and are paying the taxes. For example, 20,000 MNT to 70,000 MNT is taken once a year from vehicles registered in the capital city. Tolls vary depending on the type of car. People with mopeds and motorcycles also give such a fee. Approximately 77 billion MNT of the tolls and the road usage fee goes to the local budget annually. Professionals said that the road would not be the way it is now if it was maintained and paved every year with that amount of money that drivers had paid. The head of the highway council, highway consulting engineer N.Adilbish said, “City congestion originates from a single pothole. Many countries around the world have dedicated funds to prevent, repair, and ensure road safety. We have local road funds, but they are only nominal. Taxes, tolls, and fees are taken from our pockets to make up the fund. The road fund can use the money from us to repair potholes and broken roads. But they are not doing their job, therefore it is not fixed. In fact, according to the law, it is stipulated that we, the road users, are supposed to monitor the fund formation and spending”.

Moreover, the officials are still complaining that “the money for road tolls is not enough”. As a result, the amount of road tolls has been increased this year, expanding the burden and pressure on citizens. Also, drivers coming from rural areas pay 5,000 MNT for the road usage every time they drive in Ulaanbaatar. 


Repairing works can be done even in winter 


The Governor of the Capital City and Mayor of Ulaanbaatar said, “We are studying the usage of technology from foreign countries to repair the roads”. In the past, he was ridiculed for saying that he would study the experience of foreigners about spraying salt and substances on the road. In fact, the technology to fix city roads and even maintain them for four seasons of the year does not have to be searched from far away. Because there is a ready-made technology that has already been introduced domestically. For example, “Erdenesant AZZA” JSC covered potholes in the 217km to 284 km of Ulaanbaatar-Arvaikheer road with cold asphalt concrete in March.

The advantage of cold asphalt concrete pavement is that it can be used in all four seasons, in other words, it is resistant to extreme natural and climatic conditions such as snow, rain and high humidity in our country. Another advantage is that it can be repaired in a short time compared to hot asphalt. According to the Ministry of Road and Transportation Development, many national and state road organizations are using this technology to repair potholes. Private sector companies working in the road sector have been using this technology for the last five to six years. It means that the road work does not have to wait until the warm season to be repaired and it can be done even in winter. However, it is tragic that the management of our city does not have the desire and effort to use this kind of technology.