Water service may be restored to building no. 8 in the Romani ghetto on Přednádraží street in Ostrava-Přívoz in a few days. The Ostrava Water and Sewer Works (Ostravské vodárny a kanalizace - OVAK) will restart service if the water main there is in order and the building owner pays what the company is owed.
Oldřich Roztočil, who owns 10 buildings on Přednádraží street, said the amount owed for previous service to no. 8 is not terribly large and he will pay it today. More than 100 people, including many children, are refusing to move out of the ghetto despite the Building Works Authority having instructed them to vacate the properties.
“The water company set several conditions. I must pay what is owed and prove that the technical state of the connections and the water main will not endanger the health and lives of those living there or damage any property. I also have to pay a fee to renew the service and make sure the damage to the water meter that was previously committed will not be repeated,” said Roztočil, who added that the company has behaved quite correctly regarding the request.
Unless a technical problem occurs, Roztočil believes water service could be restored on Monday or even sooner. “It’s theoretically possible - now it all depends on him, we will visit the site to investigate on the basis of his statement. We have to perform tests to see how long the water needs to run there before we turn it on all the way,” said OVAK spokesperson Martina Gavendová.
The water company halted supplies to Přednádraží street almost three weeks ago for lack of payment. Residents have been getting water from a supplementary water tank ever since, which was first paid for by Roztočil, then by the Life Together civic association (Vzájemné soužití) and various individuals. The landlord said he had stopped paying for the service because the tenants had stopped paying him rent.
Renewal of water service will make it possible for building no. 8 to become an independent delivery site. The water company has accepted the suggestion that the landlord pay what is owed for that building only. In addition to water service, negotiations regarding use of the building’s wastewater collectors are continuing, as sewer lines in the area are not functioning. The landlord said everything seems to be heading in the direction of removing building no. 8 from the list of buildings which the Building Works Authority ordered vacated almost two weeks ago. “Lease agreements could be renewed there and the residents would start paying for water again,” he said.
The Building Works Authority instructed the residents on Přednádraží street to vacate the buildings because of their poor state of repair. Officials believe further occupancy of them would be life-threatening. Approximately 140 people are refusing to move away because it would be too expensive for them to accommodate themselves at the local residential hotel. The authorities have filed a motion with the court asking that it enforce the eviction.
The Building Works Authority has also instructed the landlord to demolish one of the buildings within 15 days because it poses a hazard to its surroundings. Roztočil is waiting for a second expert opinion about the necessity of demolition before proceeding.
Czech Press Agency, translated by Gwendolyn Albert