If the buildings symbolizing Yerevan weren’t noticed from the distance it would seem we were heroes of fantastic movie who move from one time to another when we crossed the threshold of Kond one of the central districts of Yerevan. First the senses of our feet reacted when the smooth asphalt momentarily changed into pieces of stone. The roads became narrow and the houses ruined or appeared unsafe.
People appeared in the street who were carrying water in buckets from the faucets flowing outside and some of them were carrying stones to put on the roof so that the wind wouldn’t leave them under the open sky.
It is already several years the residents of Kond live with an expectation of improving living conditions. Up to 300 years old dilapidated houses are deprived of elementary living conditions-they have no sewerage system, water pipeline and electricity. They always hear that their houses will be destroyed and new ones will be built and compensation must be given to them. But the antiquity of those promises is as old as the houses of Kond.
“The condition of Kond is very bad. Everything is ruining the houses, the streets… Is it a place to live? Nobody pays attention. They say they will destroy them, they have delayed it for so many years, they do nothing” says granddad Seryozha whose parents moved to Kond in 1918.
Mrs. Anzhela tells that three families use one toilet in their yard and they do not know what bathing is.
“In mornings we stand in a queue for toilet. My grandchildren are 7-8 years old and sit on the bucket up to now. Which century is it that in the center of Yerevan three families use one toilet of one meter long? I applied to municipality and they told me to bring a geodesy and an architect to draw a plan. The architect wanted 200 USD, now shall I give money to the architect or to built a toilet or pay the taxes, which one shall I manage to do?” says Anzhela.
Unrealized reconstruction projects
There was a decision on the reconstruction of Kond in Soviet Union times which was left unfinished in 1990s. In 2006 according to the decision made by the RA Government Kond district was recognized as an eminent domain and the “Downtown Yerevan” CJSC was recognized as an acquirer which took the responsibility to use the 175.769 square meter of the district. From 2007 the company started to make negotiations and sign contracts with owners. 200 contracts were signed according to which the residents of Kond would get apartments with a space equal to the space of their houses in the building which would be built adjacent to the hotel “Dvin”.
The terms of the contracts have already expired but only the basis of the building has been built up to now and the skeleton of 4-5 floor. And the destiny of people living in 700 houses of Kond is uncertain.
It is already 2 years the negotiations aren’t conducted, the contracts aren’t signed. Neither the constructing company nor the municipality gives exhaustive answer why the process of signing the contracts has been frozen, why the constructions have been stopped and when the promised houses will be ready. The residents do not know whom to apply and from whom to demand the penalties determined for the expired deadlines of the contracts.
Naira Sedrakyan has been waiting for her new apartment for already 4 years. In 2011 the term of the contract expired. “After signing the contract they took the certificate of property and kept it. We cannot make any transactions and cannot take loans from the bank. They do not give us the new house, they do not pay the penalties and do not say when they will give” she says.
Naira tells there are rumors that “Downtown Yerevan” has been bankrupt and cannot meet its contractual obligations.
“We apply to the municipality but they say there is no constructor, go and ask for your certificates from those whom you gave them. They do not say what will happen with our contracts, who will compensate us whom we must apply and who will solve our problem” says Naira adding that the residents have applied to various bodies and they are waiting for what will happen and probably they will apply to the court.
Another resident of Kond Mrs. Liza says they haven’t signed an alienation contract and it was right. “Those who have signed 5 years have already passed and they do not construct. Our house is 24 square meters, there are 7 of us, we live penned up together and if they give us a house or money equal to our house what will be changed? Won’t 7 of us live in the same hovel there can be no question about improving the conditions.”
We send a letter to “Downtown Yerevan” in order to make the rumors about the bankruptcy or liquidation more exact and we are waiting for an answer. We got an answer from municipality that it hadn’t been informed about recognition of bankruptcy of “Downtown Yerevan” CJSC.
The municipality which carries out a state control over the sales process is not only unaware of the condition of the constructing company but also informed us by a letter that it has no obligations towards the residents. “Yerevan community as a local government body is not the guarantee of the contracts signed between “Downtown Yerevan” CSJC and the residents and has no obligations towards them” is written in the letter of municipality.
And the residents were assured that the government is their guarantee and the constructing company cannot avoid from its obligations. The fact is the residents cannot demand anything neither from the government nor from the constructing company.
“The best solution for me is to compensate with an apartment. They have kept the property certificate of my house for 4 years I might sell my house and leave Kond. I waited with a hope to have a new apartment. But today I am no better off than at the start. Nobody gives reasons why this situation occurred and who will solve the problem” says the resident of Kond Naira Sedrakyan.
The reconstruction of Kond has been failed for more than 20 years and the residents of Kond continue to live in the center of the capital in extremely poor conditions.