: :inin Kyiv (EET)

Ukrainian Railways CEO: Reform sabotaged at all levels

Head of Joint-Stock Company Ukrzaliznytsia [Ukrainian Railways] Wojciech Balczun reported to the Cabinet November 2, claiming that the initiatives to reform the company are being sabotaged at all levels, an UNIAN correspondent reported

”We took control over Ukrzaliznytsya when it was in a very poor condition. There are a lot of pathologies,  combatting which requires time and courage. That`s because fighting against sabotage is no easy job. This is not Ukrzaliznytsia as it was at the times of Kirpa [former CEO who had died in an alleged suicide back in 2004] when one person could settle all issues. This is a normal corporation, where decisions are taken by the board,” he said.

According to Balczun, the company would deliberately lost lawsuits, tenders were blocked through the Anti-Monopoly Committee, purchases were made via intermediaries, who spiked up prices by dozens of times.

”We have used up all our fuel reserves, and in the worst moments we had reserves enough  for only one day due to delays in tenders. Fuel borrowing contracts were signed with suppliers providing for penalties for non-payment starting at 1% per day, that is 365% per year. I have never seen anything like that before,”  said Balczun.

The company CEO also added that the situation with the supply of electricity remains critical.

Besides ”standard violations” in procurement, Ukrzaliznytsia saw additional losses due to mismanagement of assets.

”One of Skoda trains, which had been purchased ahead of Euro 2012, stood idle, though in good condition. Broken air-conditioning systems in the summer due to the fact that the tenders were not organized on time… Dirt and unsanitary conditions in trains, repair plans are not implemented, spare parts and bedding are lacking at the empty warehouses,” Balczun said.

Also, according to him, Ukrzaliznytsia owns two railway ferries, which have remained idle for 1.5 years, while the company paid UAH 1.5 million for their maintenance. At the same time, he added that, according to the plans, one of the ferries will start operating as early as January 2017.

”We are aware of trading positions [in the company], I am constantly reporting corruption, there was also a strike of Donetsk Railways,” said Balczun, noting resistance to reform within the company.

He said that in addition to sabotage within the company, black PR campaigns are ongoing against the leadership of Ukrzaliznytsia with the idea that ”the Polish team will leave soon, we just need to wait.”

In turn, once Balczun wrapped up his report, Minister of Infrastructure Vlodymyr Omelyan said: ”I am ready to support all initiatives for transparent reform of Ukrzaliznytsia. But I categorically oppose a situation where one mafia is switched for another. ”

As UNIAN reported earlier, Omelyan criticized Balczun for slow reform of the Ukrainian Railways and accused the company`s management of failing to provide a long-term development plan.

In turn, Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman stated that the Ukrainian government should provide full political support to the new management of Ukrzaliznytsya, which is faced with sabotage within the company, inflated prices of intermediaries in the procurement process, and other kinds of pressure.

The contract with Balczun was signed early July 2016.


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