Slowly you go – then you go: Ukraine’s turn from infrastructural devastation to “big construction”

In recent years, Ukraine has made a qualitative leap in the development of transport infrastructure, halting the process of its destruction, which lasted for decades. UNIAN mentions the most significant events on the bumpy road of our country from destruction to “great construction”.

After Ukraine gained its independence in 1991, the domestic infrastructure steadily degraded.

This was facilitated by a number of fundamental reasons that undermined any attempt to radically change the situation: lack of investment, deindustrialization of the economy, a number of economic crises, rampant corruption and lack of real competition in the sector.

As a result, the deplorable state of Ukrainian infrastructure has become one of the main obstacles to the country’s development.

Our ports and railways could not ensure the growth of freight traffic. Our roads, covered with pits resembling a field after the battle, nullified all the transit potential of the country. Not to mention that they scared away investors who, when they arrived in Ukraine, thought: “how can goods be transported in this country?”. Given also the deplorable situation with the railway and the dying water transport, the investor did not find an answer and moved to one of the neighboring countries.

Moreover, these few potential investors in Ukraine were met by empty, half-abandoned airports, which also said a lot.

Domestic business also suffered, incurring the costs caused by the lack of normal infrastructure in the cost of its products, which further reduced the competitiveness of the Ukrainian economy.

The situation changed only after the Revolution of Dignity, when Viktor Yanukovych’s corrupt, kleptocratic regime was expelled from the country and Ukrainians demanded rapid and tangible change. The symbol of these changes were high – profile infrastructure projects, the development of air and rail services, and the revival of river navigation.

Good roads are not a luxuryUNIANUNIAN

Ukraine has some of the worst roads in the world, and in Europe there are more potholes only in neighboring Moldova, a statement that has been unbreakable for almost a quarter of a century.

However, since 2017, significant amounts have been allocated from the state budget for Ukrainian roads, 90 percent of which have so far fallen into disrepair and are in need of repair, and probably for the first time the result of allocating state funds for repair and construction of highways has become visible to the naked eye.

The number of roads in the country began to grow, the passage of which did not threaten the loss of a wheel or other serious damage to the car. Drivers and passengers noted this qualitative improvement in their lives. 

In 2017, about 20 billion hryvnias were allocated for road repairs, next year – twice as much. The trend of growth of allocated funds, as well as the volume of work, increased from year to year. Photo by UNIANPhoto by UNIAN

Volodymyr Groysman, who was the prime minister at the time, tried to make the increase in road construction in the country the basis of his political PR campaign. It did not help Groysman much, but the example turned out to be contagious.

Under the patronage of the President

After the victory in the presidential election of Volodymyr Zelensky, as well as his party in the parliamentary elections in 2019, the project of large-scale repair and construction of roads across the country was pathetically called “Great Construction” with the subtitle “President’s Program of Ukraine”.

It is well known that any serious “program of the President of Ukraine” requires huge funds and mandatory records.

Therefore, in 2020, about 100 billion hryvnias were spent on the program and almost 4,000 kilometers of roads were repaired. This is five times more than in 2019 and is a record for all the years of independence of our country.

In 2021, this record must be broken. It is planned that 6.8 thousand kilometers of roads will be repaired by the end of the by UNIAN, Vladislav Musienkophoto by UNIAN, Vladislav Musienko

There is no reason to doubt that this result will be achieved, as funding for the program is a priority.

Did the national joint-stock company Naftogaz of Ukraine win several billion dollars from the Russian Gazprom in the Stockholm arbitration? Some of this money can be spent on roads.

Are the funds of the State Fund for Combating COVID-19 being spent too slowly? But almost 30 billion hryvnias from this fund can be spent on road repairs very quickly.

And so on. The president’s priorities have become priorities for the whole country.

Plan “B”

The implementation of the “Big Construction” program is under the watchful eye of both officials and opponents of the government. Any misconduct or high-profile corruption scandal will lead to a significant drop in the ratings of the president and his team that go with this all-bank project.

However, there is one undoubted positive side in all this – the transport infrastructure in Ukraine is really gradually changing.

The author of this text not so long ago, for the first time in fifteen years, passed a smart concrete road from Nikolaev to Kropyvnytskyi, having trusted the navigator who preferred this route to more usual “Odessa route”.UNIANUNIAN

Until a few years ago, there was simply no road between the two regional centers, and it always seemed that way. Now there is a road, and it is good.

Despite the fact that the ” Big Construction ” program is criticized for too inflated budget, despite the fact that officials responsible for this project are periodically caught in corruption, this is one of the few initiatives of the current government, which brings real, tangible results.

There is only one question left, and what will happen next, when a significant part of more than 100,000 kilometers of Ukrainian roads will be repaired? Will the concept of their use change?

Today, the government is promoting the idea of ​​a concession, when the obligation to maintain the proper condition of roads will be given to private business in exchange for the right to receive income from roadside infrastructure.

And if this model does not “take off”? Is there a plan “B” in power, or is Ukraine doomed to spend about 10 percent of the state budget annually on road repairs and maintenance against the background of chronic underfunding of medicine and education?

I want to believe that no, and in ten years the theme of bad roads in our country will be perceived as a good joke, referring to the times of gray antiquity.

Open skyPhoto by UNIANPhoto by UNIAN

Today, the Ukrainian aviation market is one of the most dynamically developing in Europe. But this was not always the case. 

Before the Revolution of Dignity, 2013 was a record year for the industry, when passenger traffic amounted to about 15 million people. Then the transportation and service of air passengers fell significantly due to the war with Russia and the cessation of communication with an aggressive neighbor, the annexation of Crimea and the occupation of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, the economic crisis and declining welfare. 

At the same time, in 2019, only one metropolitan airport, Boryspil, served more than 15 million passengers, and the total passenger traffic of all airports in the country was an incredible 24.3 million passengers for Ukraine. 

Prior to the coronary crisis, passenger traffic through Ukrainian airports was projected to increase to more than 70 million by 2030. 

The fact is that our air market for the first 25 years of Ukraine’s independence was in hibernation: the main direction of flights was Russia, and seasonal – Turkey and Egypt.

The reason was simple – Ukrainians could not afford to fly because they had too low an income. It turned out later that this statement was not entirely true.  

The main impetus for the development of the domestic aviation market was the visa-free regime with the European Union, which has been working since the summer of 2017, which includes three dozen attractive (from all points of view) for Ukrainian citizens.

Falling bureaucratic hurdles and the abolition of visa fees have made this area more accessible to Ukrainian citizens, creating unprecedented demand.

Several of the world’s largest airlines responded to the interest of Ukrainians in flights on European routes. First of all, the Irish Ryanair and the Hungarian Wizz Air, which offered Ukrainians cheaper ticket prices, a huge number of different destinations, as well as their presence and style of doing business have intensified competition in the domestic market.   UNIANUNIAN

Demand was so high that at the end of 2018, a new Ukrainian airline SkyUp appeared on the domestic market, which also offers lower ticket prices for both domestic and foreign flights. Today, the fleet of this Ukrainian company has 14 of its own aircraft, and is regularly increasing. 

When the coronavirus pandemic hit the world, traffic dropped significantly. According to the results of 2020, the total passenger flow of Ukrainian airports amounted to only 8.7 million passengers. 

At the same time, in 2021, in the first seven months alone, passenger traffic amounted to almost 7 million people and continues to grow every month, and Ukraine is among the top European countries in terms of the rate of recovery of the aviation market.

In October, Ukraine and the European Union plan to sign an agreement on the Common Aviation Area, which will be a powerful stimulus for market development.

“I hope we will be able to physically sign the Common Aviation Area agreement with the EU this fall. Such an agreement means that Ukrainian air carriers will have expanded access to the EU market, and European companies will enter Ukraine,” the prime minister said a few weeks ago. Denis Shmigal.

The emergence of such competition, according to the Prime Minister, will reduce ticket prices and contribute to the formation of an open, competitive and transparent aviation market in Ukraine. This gives hope that in the near future the number of flights and passenger traffic will return to pre-crisis levels.

Revival of river trafficphoto by UNIAN, Alexander Sinitsaphoto by UNIAN, Alexander Sinitsa

River traffic in Ukraine today occupies a critically low share in the total volume of freight traffic – in 2020 it amounted to only 1-2 percent. In the European Union, for example, it is 7 percent, and the EU plans to significantly increase the share of river transport in the coming years, given their environmental friendliness compared to other modes of transport of goods and passengers.  

The Ukrainian river network has been in a state of disrepair for many years, and 75 percent of the infrastructure and gateways have been worn out.

However, the potential for increasing freight traffic on Ukrainian rivers is enormous. A few decades ago, rivers transported 60 million tons of cargo annually, and now this figure has dropped to 11-12 million tons.

The current year has shown that both businesses and passengers are in demand for river transport. For example, the transportation of goods across the Dnieper alone in January-May this year increased by 61 percent to 4.5 million tons.

The recently adopted Verkhovna Rada Law on Inland Water Transport , the main provisions of which will come into force on January 1, 2022, should promote the active development of river navigation in Ukraine .

One of the initiators of the law, MP Artem Kovalev, said that with this document the state has established rules that make the river industry attractive for business.Artem Kovalev / photo UNIANArtem Kovalev / photo UNIAN

“We have actually given the industry two important messages. It is that the state is interested in developing this important area, and that we have established basic rules for the industry, started to create an open and competitive river transport market. In fact, this area has become clearer and more predictable. for business, as well as interesting for attracting investment, “he said.

In the next five years, the Ukrainian government expects to increase freight traffic by river to 30 million tons per year, and the direct economic effect of this growth will be 13-16 billion hryvnia.

The river industry, as well as the whole of Ukraine, is on the verge of great change. 

We can say as much as we want that the country has lost a huge number of opportunities and lost time that could be used for development and reform. But the future of domestic infrastructure, like all of our beautiful country, looks optimistic. In order to complete the path from ruin to the real great construction of a new democratic and technologically advanced country, it is necessary to use the coming years as effectively as possible.

(C)UNIAN 2021

One comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.