Winter in Turkmenistan: unheated houses

Frequent cases of poisoning with carbon monoxide have urged the employees of the gas supply enterprises and the State Fire Inspection office to conduct a raid of all apartments in the capital and other country’s provinces. The purpose was to identify those who violate the use of gas heating devices and prevent accidents caused by the wrong maintenance of these appliances.

In late 2011 an entire family consisting of 5 family members residing in one of the apartment buildings in the residential district Gaudan in the Turkmen capital died whilst asleep after inhaling carbon monoxide. The reason is the use of broken and unreliable Iran-made gas heaters.

These heaters have long been ill-famed. Yet, people still buy then and install Iran-made merchandise as it is very cheap, thus exposing themselves to life-threatening situations…

In early January a sharp drop in temperature was recorded even in the southern provinces, in addition to the Dashoguz velayat and northern etraps in the Lebap and Balkan velayats. At night time the outside temperature drops to -9 Celsius, which is 2 to 3 degrees lower than the official data provided by the national Meteorological office.

Since central heating supply systems do not function properly in all apartment blocks, the inhabitants of multi-storey apartment buildings are urged to provide heating themselves. Some make use of electric heaters or wall split air conditioners, whereas others use gas appliances including self-made fireplaces.

In some households gas burners or gas stoves remain switched on round-the-clock. If you enter such an apartment, it becomes difficult to breathe due to a shortage of oxygen.

Batyr S., a resident of the Eastern residential district of Dashoguz says that a thermometer in his three room apartment on the 3rd floor showed only 16 degrees, and for this reason his family asked their self-trained acquaintance to build a gas heater in the hall. It immediately got warmer in the apartment, but at the same time it also posed a threat as combustion products had been installed in the ventilation system with the help of an elastic hose, which is strictly prohibited.

When the door bell rings, family members do not hurry to open the door but first check through the spy hole who is there. They will not open the door, if there is an unfamiliar person or even a group of people, since these may be officials from the municipal gas supply office or state fire inspection office, who might not only impose a fine but in the worst-case scenario cut off the gas supply to an apartment…

Apartment buildings in Ashgabat are not heated properly. Households with infants and elderly retirees are most vulnerable.

-We have been living in this house for over 30 years and cannot recall hot radiators during the winter season, — says Bossan A., a female inhabitant of the 4 storey apartment building located on Atabaevastreet. – Therefore we insulate windows with plastic tape and try not to open the door too often and switch on all electrical appliances to generate and maintain heat.

In conclusion it should be mentioned that last year the Ministry of Public Utilities abolished by the former President, was set up again in 2011. Hopefully, the new agency will considerably improve the situation.

Source: TIHR