On July 23, Turan news agency published an article "How to drive along a new road between two pillars?" written by me, Kamal Ali. In the article I used a photograph taken from the social network Facebook; the social network indicated the place where the photograph was taken - the Sheki region of Azerbaijan.
The next day, the State Agency Azerbaijan Avtomobil Yollari in the official website reported that the photo was taken not in Azerbaijan.
By publishing this photo and commentary to it, I caused damage to the business reputation of the State Agency Azerbaijan Avtomobil and the agency Turan.
In this regard, I offer deep apologies and regrets to the State Agency Azerbaijan Avtomobil and the Turan news agency.
I also apologize to colleagues in the Turan news agency
July 24, 2019
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2019 July 23 (Tuesday) 17:24:48
How to Drive on New Road between Two Pillars?
In the Sheki-Balakan zone of Azerbaijan, as well as throughout the country, asphalt-laying works are being carried out on rural and district roads. In some villages and roads between settlements, there has never been new asphalt; in others, the road surface was last updated during the Soviet years, with bitumen filling onto bare ground. With the current fundamental works it cannot be compared. To the delight of the inhabitants the region is covered with a thick layer of asphalt.
In the summer of 2019, the village of Ilisu, Gakh district, was completely asphalted. The works were carried out by AzerAvtoYol State Agency. Such large-scale road work in this village has never been done. But, according to the villagers that talked to Turan, a thick layer of asphalt has been laid on the road, under which there are old, holey water pipes, from which, during the rainy season, water pours onto the road under pressure. The pipes were not repaired, asphalt was laid on them, and even now, when there is a lot of water in the pipes, water flows out of the new asphalt. This means, - say the villagers, that the new asphalt will live for a year or two. Rain flows, snow and ice will lift asphalt, and mudslides will flow under it and will carry away black asphalt slabs. And heavy road cars will destroy the remaining coverage.
Currently, work is underway on the Gakh-Ilisu road, and the length of the asphalt pavement will be 35.5 km, AzerAvtoYol Agency reports.
Turan"s correspondent met with the engineer of one of the asphalt plants operating in the province. He introduced himself as the actual manager of an enterprise belonging to one of the oligarchic families of the country and asked not to be named. The plant supplies asphalt for the state agency Azerbaycan Avtomobil Yollari (AzerAvtoYol).
The expert said that at any asphalt plant, state funds allocated for the production and laying of asphalt are often appropriated. Two types of asphalt are laid on the road - first the main, then the surface type. Both asphalt are made mainly of bitumen, crushed stone and sand, with the addition of a special mineral powder. The norms of the number of constituent components of asphalt are everywhere violated. Corruption consists in the underweight of the components in the production of asphalt, and in intentionally reducing the thickness of the asphalt when it is laid on the road. The salary of workers at the plant and during installation does not exceed 300 manat. Leading technical staff receives no more than 400 manat per month, so they have to work on "private" objects in the private sector, using the government"s asphalt for work there.
"The quality of asphalt and its laying can be checked only by special methods, taking samples for laboratory analysis and measuring the thickness of the asphalt laid. But no one does this, as manufacturers, road builders and inspection structures belong to the same family," explained the expert.
He drew our attention to the fact that AzerAvtoYol always reports on the length of roads laid by this agency, but never gives information about the width and thickness of the asphalt pavement.
The low quality of asphalt and its installation is often reported by Azerbaijani media. "The joy of the inhabitants of the highland villages in Astara from the new road did not last long. The Tahtanakeran-Miki highway was repaired and put into operation in December last year, but already in March, the asphalt pavement was damaged in some areas, and cracks and bumps appeared in some places," az.sputniknews.ru reported in 2018.
"Approximately two hundred meters of a highway with a total length of 4,300 meters were restored in accordance with the norms. The remaining 4,100 meters were tamped down with a layer of earth, and asphalt was laid on top," said Nicki Fataliyev, a resident of the village.
In the Khatai district of Baku, on Nobel Avenue (at the refinery), asphalt again failed at the repair site of the huge hole formed in late December, Massa.az reported in January of this year.
In the article "Expensive Roads" (March 2018), the Turan agency reported that, according to experts, construction of a kilometer of road in the country costs the state budget about $ 18 million. For comparison, the cost of laying 1 km of road in the US is $ 5.9 million (such costs are influenced by high wages, high cost of materials, high taxes, etc.). In Azerbaijan, the cost of construction of road should be two times lower than the US. It would seem that with such spending the result should be also appropriate. In the ranking of countries in terms of road quality for 2016-2017 compiled by the World Economic Forum, Azerbaijan ranks 44th among 136 countries of the world. This is a rather high figure compared with its neighbors. However, given the amount of expenditures on road infrastructure, the place in the rating could be much higher, and potholes and bumps that develop into deep holes on most of Azerbaijan"s country roads indicate a possible error in the rating. What the asphalt surface turns into after snow or rain can hardly be called a road.
New roads quickly subside, and many people attribute this to the quality of asphalt concrete, or rather to the lack of it. According to domestic experts, a sufficient amount of cement is not added to concrete, and asphalt is also recognized as a victim of corruption. Thus, asphalt money flows in a large stream into someone's pocket, while the roads remain abandoned.
The economist Nemat Aliyev believes that in recent years most of the state funds have been allocated to the transport sector: "However, we often encounter the fact that a road, the operational period of which in investment projects is 25-30 years, becomes unsuitable 3 years later. This means that the fact of corruption is present. This is manifested in the fact that the money allocated for construction is not spent for its intended purpose, the road is poorly constructed; therefore its lifespan is reduced several times. Therefore, this area does not need to be allocated more money to improve the situation, but it needs serious state financial control over the expenditure of funds allocated. There is no control of the kind, therefore, Azerbaijan occupies one of the top lines in the ranking of countries in terms of corruption," N. Aliyev stressed.