Baku’s transport collapse: when will the metro work?
Baku’s transport collapse
The Baku metro has been closed to passengers since October 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In addition, the buses don’t run on weekends and holidays. How long will this situation last? What do transport workers think about this? What other problems have they faced?
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Metro workers receive less wages
A train driver of the Baku metro named Hikmet told JAMnews that since October last year he has not been able to receive a full salary, and he receives only 70% of his normal salary which was around 1,000 manat or $588.
Hikmet says the justification drivers received for this reduction is the loss of ‘night hours’: “When we work at night and on holidays, we receive double the salary. Because of the quarantine, the metro does not work, so there are no such additives either.”
‘Just get to work however you can’
The metro may be closed to passengers but work is carried out every week to ensure the metro system stays in good condition while it goes unused by the public.
Hikmet says that the process however has created additional problems for train drivers:
“For some reason, preventive work is carried out on Saturdays and Sundays. As you know, buses do not work these days. In other words, we are told ‘we don’t care how you get here, just get to work.’
Hikmet speaks about the importance of preventive maintenance in the metro: “When trains do not run, rust can appear on the rails. And subway trains receive signals directly from the rails. Those. the rails must be in good condition to give the correct brake signal. It is very important. For example, if the train driver loses full control over the movement, the train will automatically stop at a red traffic light, and thus a possible accident will be prevented.”
When will the subway start working?
The metro workers themselves have no answer to this question either. According to Hikmet, they themselves are eagerly awaiting the opening of the subway:
“The quarantine has been extended until June. We assume that the metro will not work until then. Of course, we ourselves, like everyone else, are waiting for the start of work. It is not easy to lose 30 percent of your salary every month.”
Similar problems for bus drivers
Hasan works as a bus driver for BakuBus. Payment for travel on these buses operating in Baku is non-cash, but even here drivers cannot receive wages in full.
“Every day, before starting the route, we are given a voucher. The salary is calculated by these vouchers. If we do not go to work for two days every week, then this naturally affects the salary. Due to the fact that buses do not run on weekends, every month I lose 25-30 percent of my salary,” Hasan said.
All types of public transport are prohibited in Azerbaijan during the Novruz holiday – from March 20 to March 29. In other words, in March, bus drivers will receive less money for these 10 days.
In a conversation with a JAMnews correspondent, Hasan could not answer the question when will this state of affairs end: “Like you, we follow the official reports. We are waiting for the quarantine to end in order to return to normal operation.”
Social media reacts
The ban on public transport on holidays has been received ambiguously by Azerbaijani social media users. Here are some typical comments:
“This is our welfare state. If you have money for a taxi, you can walk, spend the holiday as you like. But if there is no money, you have to stay at home all 10 days.
“Interestingly, cafes and restaurants are open, but buses do not run. Does anyone see any logic in such a decision?”
“On holidays I have to go to work. But there are no buses or subways. Do I have to spend half of my salary in order to earn a piece of bread?”