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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Luzhkov Gets Tough On City Construction

After years of windows not fitting right, inoperable electricity networks and scores of complaints from the public, Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov thinks it’s about time the city’s construction industry learned about quality control.

During Tuesday’s city council meeting, Luzhkov waived a proposal on how to change the city’s construction inspection system in disgust, calling it an "empty document."

Instead of approving the proposals, as many expected, the mayor called upon inspection agencies, the architecture committee and economists to come up with something better.

First Deputy Mayor Vladimir Resin, head of the department of architecture, construction, renovation and development, was not included in the revised working group. Luzhkov said he intends to pull regulatory bodies out from under the supervision of Resin’s department once and for all.

This time, control of the architecture inspectorate was taken from Resin. Earlier, he was also relieved of his duties related to Moscow’s licensing agency and committee of experts, Vedomosti reported.

At a press briefing Wednesday, Resin chuckled at his own newfound freedom.

"Today, I opened the paper and found that I had been removed — from quality oversight," he said. "No matter. We will go after quality just like we went after volume in the past."

Listening to a series of reports given by the heads of Moscow’s oversight committees during Tuesday’s city council session, the mayor hid his face in his palms. Afterward, he demanded that city-run housing developers implement ISO 9000 as soon as possible.

"This is a new system," Luzhkov said. "And we need to master it intensively. This will protect us from low-quality workmanship and complaints."

ISO 9000 — developed by the International Organization for Standardization — is a set of standards used worldwide to assist governments and businesses to ensure the quality of their goods and services. A key part of the system calls for governments to solicit input from the receivers of its services.

City-controlled companies will be required to introduce ISO 9000 by 2002. Soon, firms will not be able to compete for lucrative government projects without fully implementing ISO 9000, Luzhkov said.

Yevgeny Zaikin, head of Moscow’s construction coordinating agency, cited examples of high-rise brak, or defects, that pervade the regions of southern Butovo and Mitino.

"Many apartments aren’t built with walls that insulate heat effectively," Zaikin said. "Changes are inevitably made during the construction process in more than half of our projects. This leads to mistakes."

DSK-4, the city-run construction company that was responsible for many defective homes in southern Butovo, is being liquidated, said Resin.

Compared with the first nine months of 1999, the number of complaints about housing ordered by the city has increased 71 percent this year, he said.

"I’ve read these complaints, and they are becoming increasingly harsh," said Luzhkov.

Once it became established that the quality of construction projects was eroding, Luzhkov turned his attention to the city’s oversight committees, letting them know that he would "relieve himself" of them if they didn’t get their act together.

"You all have the opportunity to be strict and independent regulatory bodies," Luzhkov said to the representatives of the city’s construction licensing and inspection agencies. "This opportunity is going to waste."

The degree of quality depends on the economic health of the construction sector, said Leonid Monosov, general director of Moskapstroi, another city-owned construction firm.

"Right now, more money should be going to maintain quality than to make strides in improving our building technology," Monosov said.

Six percent to 8 percent of construction costs in Moscow are attributed to expenditures on quality control. If ISO is implemented, it might drive the costs of municipal housing up, even though there has been an ongoing effort within City Hall to continue to keep them low.