Steep Steps and No Elevators in New Apartment Block for Disabled in Southeast Turkmenistan

In January 2017 Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov issued a directive that a large, four-storey apartment building for disabled citizens and those requiring social security should be built in every region and regional capital.

The houses were fully commissioned in record time (less than a year was allotted for construction), which was reported in the state media. In actual fact, the contractors finished the work several months after commissioning. A while later apartments began to be assigned to those in need of housing.

One of the 48-apartment buildings was built on Victory Boulevard in the southeastern city of Mary. Steep flights of 20 steps lead up to each entrance, while the building itself has no elevators. There are ramps, but wheelchair users still need help to get to the upper floors.

Sources say that the new building cannot meet housing demand in the city, and that the apartments were allocated according to an odd principle: they were mainly given to third-category disabled people, i.e. those who are able to walk independently and to work, etc.

“Another ten such houses are needed in Mary and in every region, because there are hundreds of disabled people with mobility problems in our city alone,” a source closely connected with disabled people through his work said. observers in Ashgabat support this view. They say that otherwise the president’s humanitarian initiative and its implementation will be no more than a box-ticking exercise for Turkmenistan’s future reports to various UN committees.

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