Social networks are discussing the activity of Kyiv utilities in the purchase of rock salt for sprinkling roads in icy conditions. And this is millions of hryvnias.

For example, in December, the Podilskyi District Construction Department plans to purchase 2000 tons of rock salt for more than 14 million hryvnias. Interestingly, the same SHEU announced a tender at the end of November for salt for 10.5 million hryvnias, but then canceled it.

The TSN.ua website found out why utilities suddenly decided to buy salt at the beginning of winter and whether there is an alternative to expensive salt in the fight against ice.

When people find out that they want to spend 14 million on the purchase of salt, their eyes become round with surprise. Especially for those who are now desperately collecting a penny for the military for cars, warm clothes, and drones. Because during the war, the streets can be sprinkled with ordinary sand and not throw millions into the snow.

Salt is bought "according to plan"

The utility company SHEU of the Podolsk district told us that they want to purchase salt in accordance with the plan for the procurement of technological materials for the treatment of the road surface in the autumn-winter period of 2023-2024.

"This is the plan approved by the Order of the Mayor of Kyiv No. 987 of 13.10.202Z "On the maintenance of roads and sidewalks in the city of Kyiv in the autumn-winter period of 202Z-2024". The Podolsk district SHEU needs 3800 tons of salt for the maintenance of the street and road network of the Podolsk district," Volodymyr Martynyuk, acting head of the Podolsk district ME, said at the request of TSN.ua.

He adds that the remaining salt from last season is 30% of the required need. Therefore, in September 202, 415 tons of salt were purchased. By the way, according to data on Prozorro, almost 3 million hryvnias were spent on this.

The tender, which was held in September

"Due to the deterioration of weather conditions and for the proper maintenance of the road network of the Podilskyi district in the winter period of 202Z-2024, in accordance with the Order, the purchase of salt in the amount of 2000 tons was announced," Volodymyr Martyniuk explains.

Why was the tender canceled?

The Department of Transport Infrastructure of the Kyiv City State Administration explained to us that initially the utility company wanted to purchase 1500 tons of salt for more than 10 million hryvnias, but this tender was canceled.

Salt tender that was canceled

"The reason is that now the ME has funding and they decided to buy as much salt as they actually need so as not to buy more later. Therefore, the preliminary tender was canceled," the Department of Transport Infrastructure told TSN.ua.

Now the company has applied for a new tender, already for more than 14 million and increased the volume of salt to 2000 tons. The tender will take place on December 7, and its winner must deliver salt to the customer by December 31, 2023.

Why is European salt cheaper?

Previously, utilities bought salt from the State Enterprise "Artemsil" in the Donetsk region, now active hostilities are taking place there, so rock salt for sprinkling roads is bought abroad. By the way, its cost there is less than in Ukraine, but delivery costs are added.

"The tender price of salt is not overstated, it is normal, because now the average price for 1 ton of rock salt is 7600 hryvnias. Last year, the cost of salt was higher – about 10 thousand hryvnias per ton," the Department of Transport Infrastructure of the Kyiv City State Administration explains.

Salt for the capital's Podil

Buy salt during snowfalls

The Department explains why utilities are buying salt only now, when the city is already suffering from snowfalls. They say that the purchase of materials is carried out in accordance with the available funding and within the framework of the plan approved by the mayor.

"Depending on the costs, all these materials are additionally purchased – there is always a need for salt. For example, now the streets of the Podolsk district are sprinkled with salt, which utilities have left over from last season. But they want to replenish their stocks so as not to be limited in them. After all, traffic conditions in the area depend on it," the Department explains.

In the districts of the capital, they will continue to buy salt for sprinkling the streets / Photo: KCSA

Is there no alternative to salt?

The mayor's office says that salt is also purchased by the other nine Kyiv Sheu, because they are preparing for the season of snowfall and ice. Each district needs different volumes, because they differ in area and length of streets. Therefore, the procurement process is at different stages depending on the available funding.

The municipal corporation Kyivavtodor adds that in the countries of Europe and North America, salt has been identified as the optimal reagent for winter road maintenance, which is confirmed by its long-term use in these countries.

"Previously, Kyivavtodor specialists studied the introduction of the latest anti-icing chemicals and technologies. During the experiments, such reagents really showed good results in terms of melting all types of snow and ice deposits on road surfaces, reducing the slipperiness of the treated surfaces and relative environmental safety. However, the cost of such reagents is several times higher than the cost of salt, and their consumption is much higher than the consumption of salt (depending on the air temperature)," Oleksandr Pavlovskyi, deputy general director of the Kyivavtodor Management Company, told TSN.ua.

The streets of the capital are generously sprinkled with salt

What if you sprinkle with sand?

But environmentalists note that there are other options for dealing with ice. In European cities, various mixtures and reagents are used to treat streets during snowfalls.

"But they are much more expensive than salt, and all these products, in one way or another, harm the environment. Especially when it all gets under trees and on lawns. This has a negative effect on plants – they die. A striking example is chestnuts on Khreshchatyk in Kyiv, they have been destroyed by salt for years after winter," ecologist Oleksandr Sokolenko tells TSN.ua.

The streets of the capital are sprinkled with salt, because it is cheaper than other means / Photo by Kyivavtodor

The expert adds that sand is a more environmentally friendly means of de-icing. It's less effective than salt, but people don't fall if it's sprinkled on sidewalks.

"The problem with sand is that in the spring it needs to be removed, swept away, because the city will suffer from continuous dust, and this is an additional cost," adds Oleksandr Sokolenko.

Salt destroys trees: what should be done?

The ecologist claims that the problem of Kyiv is that the city is still completely unadapted to natural disasters – heavy downpours or heavy snowfalls.

"The city should have a developed infrastructure - modern and comfortable sidewalks, closed access to trees. Plants in a metropolis should be fed from a separate source, and not from what flows down to them from puddles – salt, technical dirt from cars. Therefore, in order to build a modern city, you need to take care of it, and this is not yet the case in Kyiv," the ecologist said.

Trees on Khreshchatyk suffer from salt / Photo: UNIAN

Heated sidewalks and elimination of slippery places

Oleksandr Sokolenko adds that Kyiv needs modern development and planning, taking into account the developments that already exist in Western or even Eastern Europe.

For example, according to an ecologist, sidewalks can be made heated and not think about where to buy a bag of salt or something else.

"We have water pouring out of the drainpipes directly onto the sidewalk near the house. Of course, in severe frost it freezes, and the place near the pipe turns into a solid skating rink. In Europe, water is not poured onto the sidewalk, another pipe is laid under it, which is connected to the city sewer. There is no need to sprinkle this place with either sand or salt. Yes, perhaps all these are small details, but if they are gradually implemented, then we will not need tons of salt for millions of hryvnias," the ecologist says.

"Soviet" habits and money into the "black hole"

He emphasizes another problem – our officials act using "Soviet" methods. They are used to living by slogans like: you need 200 tons of salt for one district and 300 tons for another. And how this salt is used and whether it is needed at all, no one knows for sure.

According to Oleksandr Sokolenko, officials proudly show us snow removal equipment on television, saying that we have it, look. But 4-5 days pass after the snowfall, and the streets remain uncleared. No one cares about them.

Officials: there is always a need for salt / Photo by Kyivavtodor

"It seems to me that the main goal of some utilities is not to improve the improvement of the city, but simply to write off or steal money. And the fact that we will not receive proper services does not bother anyone. This fall, I personally observed how people in communal jackets mowed the grass near the Darnitsa metro station, or rather not the grass, but the sand on which it grew. People just burned gasoline in mowers. But that gasoline was bought for budget funds and its useless burning in mowers is a sign of a "black hole" in which budget funds disappear. Millions who spend on planting trees in the city also disappear in this "hole", and in the heat they are not watered in order to ask for millions for new seedlings again. I think that the same story is with – no one can clearly control the feasibility of this purchase and the real costs in the city," concludes Oleksandr Sokolenko.

Earlier, the TSN.ua website published an exclusive weather forecast for December: whether there will be severe frosts and where it will snow on New Year's Eve.

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