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State Council meeting on development of national motorway system and ensuring road safety

June 26, 2019, The Kremlin, Moscow

Vladimir Putin chaired a State Council meeting on the development of the national motorway system and ensuring the safety of road traffic at the Kremlin’s St George Hall.

Measures to improve the effectiveness of road construction, the quality of road repair and maintenance, and the organisation of road traffic have been discussed.

* * *

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, Mr Zyuganov is celebrating his 75th birthday today, so before we begin I would like to wish him all the best. As we remember, he joined the Communist Party back in 1966, and the XXIII party congress was held that same year. I would like to present you with this book to remind you of that time.

Colleagues, let us get down to our agenda. Today we will analyse how the development of our motorway system is proceeding and how the safety of road traffic can effectively be improved. The goals and tasks in this field have been set out in the corresponding national projects.

Unfortunately, we still do not have very many high-quality roads. The total length of first, the highest category roads has grown by 2,423 kilometres over the last four years, and mostly due to federal motorways: 83 percent of the roads fully comply with the regulatory requirements. Of course, we must note and acknowledge that this number was rather smaller back in 2010: just 38.6 percent. This means that when we are speaking about federal roads, federal motorways, we can see that significant progress has been made. However, the share of regional roads is still lower than half.

In order to implement systemic changes in road maintenance, every region must shortly develop and adopt a corresponding programme, and not a declarative but a realistic one until 2024, which would give road builders a chance to plan long-term, purchase expensive equipment in advance, set aside building materials, and invest in experts and new technologies.

In the new road building programmes we must envisage project implementation based on public-private partnership and support the introduction of life-cycle contracts; we have already discussed this many times. They must enjoy wide application, extend for a longer term, and include design, construction, maintenance and repairs of roads. It is clear that this will require amendments to the legal framework as well as new management solutions. Of course, colleagues, I would like to hear today about what has been done so far, what has been planned, which regions are ready to implement this method, how the money is allocated in general, what contracts have been signed, and how the work is proceeding as part of the Safe and High-Quality Roads national project.

Next, the price-setting procedure remains a problem, which can influence the true cost of road maintenance. Subcontractors often take part in bidding where prices of bitumen, asphalt, asphalt concrete, gravel and other materials are deliberately lowered, so companies often turn down such contracts or do as they please, haphazardly, which affects the quality and schedule of road construction. I ask the responsible agencies to finally clear up the situation. We have discussed this many times.

I would also like to note that administrative barriers remain an obstacle for innovative solutions, up-to-date materials and designs, as well as the objective selection of the most effective subcontractor in a competition. In addition, there are too many controllers, lots of fuss, paperwork and complaints from supervising bodies, which, incidentally, often contradict each other, and the facilities are not ready on time, or their quality is questionable.

I would also like to draw your attention to the fact that road builders often do not have the opportunity to receive an advanced cash payment for meeting their contractual obligations – they receive treasury letters of credit instead, which makes it extremely difficult to acquire equipment, structures and materials in a timely manner. Of course, I understand the financial institutions who control this. Of course, I understand: it is better for them to require contractors to buy the equipment first, to build the project with this equipment, and only then to pay the equipment and materials suppliers through the treasury. This is probably more reliable, but we still need to show some flexibility in order for the construction to go forward, to not come to a halt.

Another important issue is bringing regional and municipal bridges up to standard. We considered this matter recently at a meeting in Astrakhan and agreed that specific proposals would be submitted to the State Council. I would like to hear these initiatives today.

Colleagues, road safety, in many respects, depends on the quality of the roads and the equipment, including lighting. Now, this is a serious problem. We have nothing but darkness on almost all the roads outside major cities. And this is not just because of undeveloped infrastructure, frankly. It is due to an objective shortage of funding. Daily electricity rates are quite high. These are forced savings, and they unfortunately lead to accidents and other tragedies.

The energy sector, the heads of the regions and the government as a whole are responsible for this situation. I would ask everyone, all those I just mentioned, to start coordinating and immediately addressing the issue of electricity rates in terms of road lighting. And of course, we need to decide on the pace, on a step-by-step solution to these jobs: specifically where and when road lighting should be upgraded first.

Another important challenge is to establish effective regulation of heavy vehicle traffic. We know what kind of damage they inflict on roads, especially on roads that are not intended for these heavy vehicles and when they violate the regulations for goods carriage. Accidents on damaged roads are inevitable. We need to monitor compliance with the regulations for heavy vehicles.

Of course, car accidents, including serious ones, are caused not only by road conditions. The absolute majority of them are the drivers’ fault, when they grossly violate traffic regulations. Illegal passenger transport that often ends in accidents is of particular concern. Such carriers ignore the law and put their passengers at risk for the sake of profit. We must do everything to prevent dangerous and irresponsible behaviour on the road. This task has become a government policy priority of late.

In general – and it is pleasing to note and should be noted – the overall number of car accidents in the county keeps decreasing. However, the traffic accident rate has gone up in 30 regions. I will not name them now – each leader is fully aware of the state of affairs and must know it. I expect all the regions to pay as much attention as possible to these issues.

A couple of words now about CCTV cameras. The purpose of their installation – and I want to be heard here in this hall and beyond the Kremlin walls, so that those who deal with them can hear and know – the purpose of their installation is to reduce the accident and injury rate and save people’s life. These cameras, especially on accident-prone road sections, should not be concealed and hidden. By doing this, you directly twist the purpose of all these measures: instead of making drivers more disciplined, you use the cameras just to fine them, and this is not an end in itself but an instrument for achieving the desired result. Please put this right.

I will say it again: preventing road accidents is the key objective. Outreach activities should be regularly carried out, including those for the younger generation. Children’s trauma prevention centres have shown good results. They have been established in 38 regions with direct assistance from insurance companies. I believe each Russian region should have such centres. Colleagues, please give your attention to this matter.

We have a lot of isues to discuss today. A working group of the State Council took several months to thoroughly analyse them. They worked on the most pressing and relevant issues jointly with representatives of departments and the Government on the eve of our meeting.


Vladimir Putin: Colleagues,

I would like once again, in conclusion of our discussion today, to stress the importance of the matter in question. Everybody understands that roads are good and their absence is bad. Unfortunately, not everyone understands that having good, high-quality roads is especially important and significant for Russia because of its enormous territory.

Connection between areas, regions and municipalities is vital for the economy and the social life of Russians. This is why we should have a look at the results of the State Council Working Group’s work from a practical point of view.

I would like to thank my colleagues who carried out the preparations for this meeting today and express my hope that all executive bodies, both federal and regional, will work actively to implement the proposals made today.

Thank you very much.

June 26, 2019, The Kremlin, Moscow