Sobyanin: Managing the megapolis

Having marked his first year in office, Moscow mayor Sergey Sobyanin has outlined the city’s achievements and plans for future development.

­Moscow’s ‘black hole’

After coming to power, Sobyanin immediately named resolving Moscow’s traffic collapse as his priority. The transport situation he found in the capital was an unpleasant surprise, the mayor told journalists.

“There has been no general plan of transport development, no projects of underground constructions, no detailed scheme of public transport,” Sobyanin said. “I don’t want to point fingers at anyone; the main thing is to keep on resolving the issue.”

The mayor believes the key to tackling the congestion is developing of public transport and construction of new up-to-date parking lots.

“The main problem is lack of parking space next to the Metro’s end stations,” Sobyanin said. “We are now inspecting all the surroundings. Each free piece of ground is being turned into parking space. We have already made a few thousands of them and will keep going.”

­Firm ‘no’ to high-rise construction

The fight against dense high-rise construction in the Russian capital has become Sobyanin’s second principle.

Although the mayor promised that housing in Moscow will become cheaper and more affordable, he pointed out that the immense speed of mass construction should go down.

“If we keep building like this, we will all soon run away from here,” Sobyanin said. “It’s impossible to live in such stone jungles. I will do my best to save Moscow from that.”

In addition, poor city planning is also causing traffic jams. The mayor pointed out that while Moscow ranks first among European capitals in terms of housing density, it lags way behind in terms of road density.

“Two-thirds of jobs are in the center, while most residential areas are on the outskirts,” Sobyanin said. “Unless these problems are urgently addressed, things will take a turn for the worse.”

Economic regime

­The fight against Moscow’s ever-growing budget deficit has been Sobyanin’s other important aim. A year after the new mayor’s appointment, the deficit has been lowered, the official claimed.

Eager to keep on saving, Sobyanin highlighted that the amount of borrowing for this year has also been cut.

“The Moscow government is not planning to borrow on foreign or domestic markets in the near future, provided there are no changes in the current economic situation,” he said.

­People’s respect

­Meanwhile, public opinion polls have shown that 69 per cent of Muscovites are satisfied with Sobyanin’s first year in power.

Some 32 per cent of city residents said they have positive emotions towards Sobyanin, 15 per cent believe he is an active and efficient man. 5 per cent like the new mayor, 3 per cent trust him, another 2 per cent feel respect towards the official, while 1 per cent stressed they like Sobyanin more than the former mayor, Yury Luzhkov. Only 13 per cent of Muscovites stated they do not like Sobyanin.

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