Despite the war, reconstruction explodes in the Ukrainian capital | Taiwan News

“The builders are doing a great job,” said Tamara Herasymenko, a resident of a 16-story building on the western outskirts of Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv. “They work seven days a week,” she enthuses.

Herasymenko came near the building on Chernobylska Street with several other residents of the building to see how the reconstruction work is progressing here.

It was on the morning of March 15 that a Russian rocket hit the tower, causing significant destruction. The Russian strike hit a gas pipe leading to the upper floors, which quickly caused a major fire. Of 126 apartments here, 76 were completely burned down while the rest suffered water and smoke damage.

Herasymenko says about a third of the building’s residents were at home that day. The emergency services managed to get more than 40 people out of the building, but four of its neighbors lost their lives.

Since that day, the residents of the building have been homeless. “Some have rented a temporary apartment and others are staying with relatives,” Herasymenko told DW. “Some have left the country.”

“I myself rented an apartment here in Kyiv,” she continued. But, she says, like most of her neighbors, she wants to get home as soon as possible.

According to Denys Titov, project manager at Askon, the company that manages the site, a hundred construction workers are busy on the site every day.

“We think we’ll be done by the time the heating season starts, mid-October or November,” he said, although he added that the war is delaying the delivery of some building materials.

Anti-seismic

Askon began work on the building in mid-April after authorities verified it could be rebuilt.

“Initially the residents said they wouldn’t want to live here anymore. The damage just seemed too great,” Titov said. “But this building will still be standing for years to come.”

The project manager credits the building’s original sturdy construction with helping it withstand the Russian rocket strike.

“It’s just luck that it was this block, built to withstand earthquakes, that got hit,” he said. “In all of Kyiv, there are only about 30 such buildings. If it hadn’t been for that, the result would have been much worse, and most likely we would have had to demolish it.”

Initially, everything was covered in dust and heaps of rubble had to be carried away, Titov recalls. But now the workers are insulating the exterior walls and renovating the interiors of the apartments.

“This building is going to be better than before,” Titov said. “The electricity is completely new, the elevators are new, the facade is insulated and there are energy-saving windows and new bathrooms.”

One thing apartments won’t come with is new furniture. But the volunteers help with that, said a resident Herasymenko: “Those who have absolutely nothing left at all will receive furniture and household items.”

The upper floors left hanging

Closer to the city center, a 26-storey building on Lobanovskyi Prospect, a wide boulevard in Kyiv’s southwestern districts, was also damaged after being hit by a Russian rocket on February 26.

The rocket ripped a hole in the building between the 17th and 21st floors, leaving the upper floors hanging in the air.

With the building in danger of collapsing, residents quickly gathered donations to pay for urgent structural support to keep the building standing.

“At that time, the state was not able to deal with rebuilding private houses,” said Olena Chumakova, who represents residents involved in the reconstruction. “So we collected donations to have supports erected between the floors. The rubble was also carried away.”

Locals managed to collect nearly 2 million Ukrainian hryvnia (€53,500 or $53,500). Since then, they’ve spent about $1.3 million on renovations.

“A Summer of Noise and Dust”

When local authorities conducted a structural inspection several months later, they determined that the upper floors would have to be demolished and rebuilt, which would take about three months.

Residents on the lower floors, living in apartments in good condition, were able to stay in their homes during the reconstruction.

“It was a summer with a lot of noise and dust. Even now they keep pounding,” Chumakova told DW. “But we’re just happy the building is coming back to life. We didn’t expect them to start working so quickly.”

Experts said the whole job would probably end up costing around 57 million hryvnia (around 1.5 million euros), Chumakova said, but the city of Kyiv has already pledged to pay that.

“Unfortunately, the building won’t be finished until the radiators are turned on for the winter,” said Oleksandr Akimov, who heads Zhytloinvestbud-UKB, a Kyiv City Council-run real estate and construction company overseeing the reconstruction. of all damaged buildings. in the Ukrainian capital.

And workers can’t go any faster on the Lobanovskyi Prospect skyscraper because the concrete has to harden first. They also cannot properly insulate exterior walls in the event of frost.

“I think the work there will be finished in March or April next year,” Akimov said.

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began in late February, 640 buildings have been damaged in Kyiv, including 238 apartment buildings. Of these, 16 suffered serious damage. Akimov says the city has allocated about 600 million hryvnia (about 16 million euros) in its budget for reconstruction work.

That sum could increase, however, he warned, if inspections of other buildings show that work is also needed there.

The Ukrainian government is adding an additional 200 million hryvnia (about 5.3 million euros) to this fund. “This money is intended for houses in Kyiv whose windows were smashed due to the shock waves from the explosions,” Akimov explained.

More residents are now returning to Kyiv and registering planned repairs with the authorities, the project manager said.

This article was originally published in Russian.

Christi C. Elwood