Chechnya’s gas providers have intensified their efforts to collect debts from people who persistently avoid paying for municipal services. During inspections, new cases of illegal use of gas were found.
Teams of gas company employees accompanied by police and welders have become a familiar sight in Chechnya over the past few years. Each time, inspections reveal huge debts. Those who don’t agree to pay have their gas pipeline literally cut off from their homes.
‘Chechen gas companies frequently identify places where gas is supplied without authorisation. In such cases, they don’t only cut the pipe, but also take the offenders to court’, Vakha, from gas company Gazprom Mezhregiongaz, told OC Media.
According to him, the problem is acute, especially among owners of small greenhouses.
‘In order to increase their profits, they [the owners] very often literally steal the gas in order to provide energy to their greenhouses. We punish such people strictly and pass their cases to the authorities’, Vakha said.
One of the regions with the highest unpaid debts is the Urus-Martan District. The local authorities there conduct regular inspections and walk door to door in order to conduct ‘preventive conversations’ with local people. There is also a mobile pay-box available for anyone who wants to pay their debts on the spot.
The Chechen authorities take other drastic actions against defaulters as well. Virtually all public sector employees do not receive their salaries unless they provide original receipts proving the absence of debts for communal services.