Kosice's Lunik IX estate may be without heat in winter

Kosice, 19. 9. 2005, 20:42 (CTK)

Inhabitants of the largest Romany estate in Slovakia, Kosice's Lunik I, will probably spend another winter without warm water and heating over their high debts for rent and water, it ensues from today's meeting of the government and local representatives. The Lunik inhabitants' debts have amounted to 500 million crowns in the past few years.

The government commissioner for Romany issues, Klara Orgovanova, who discussed the situation with the Kosice officials, admitted that the housing estate with some 5,000 inhabitants again faces a threat of being without warm water and heating, which occurred last winter.

"The problematic situation of the Lunik IX inhabitants would be solved only if they finally started to pay," Kosice Mayor's spokeswoman Zuzana Bobrikova told reporters after the meeting. She pointed out that the people not only owe money for the heat supply, but they also leaked warm water, 1,000 up to 2,000 cubic metres a day, from the heating system. Under such conditions, the heating plant is not able to secure heating in the flats, she added.

Moreover, during the summer season, the Lunik inhabitants dismantled thousands of radiators and carried them to the salvage point.

However, Frantisek Horvath from the local guards at Lunik IX denies this information as mendacious. He said that an inspection found out that only 111 radiators had been dismantled and taken away. Those were over 25 years old and already rusted, he added. Bobrikova however objected that most of the 250,000 inhabitant in Kosice have such old radiators too, but they do not sell them as scrap material.
Lunik IX Mayor Ladislav Sana complained after the meeting that he can do practically nothing as he has no powers to force people to pay rent.

However, not all the Lunik inhabitants are rent defaulters. Some 200 out of the 800 households living in 666 flats, pay rent as well as water and sewage fees properly.
Kosice Town Hall officials said that these families could be relocated to one or two blocks of flats where warm water supplies and heating could be provided, while those who are not willing to pay would have to stay in the houses with "a lower standard." Kosice Mayor Zdenko Trebula told reporters today that he is dealing with the situation at Lunik IX constantly. At the same time he admitted that the talks between the Lunik IX self- government and the Kosice Town Hall had "frozen" over the unwillingness of local representatives.

Orgovanova confirmed it. She also said that the inhabitants of the Romany estate should show more initiative to find a solution to the current situation.