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Houses crumbling in 5,000-resident part of Kohtla-Järve

Apartment buildings in Kohtla-Järve.
Apartment buildings in Kohtla-Järve. Source: (ERR)

Almost all of the houses in a 5,000-resident part of the eastern city of Kohtla-Järve are in a state of decay. Suspected reasons include the bad building quality as well as the ground shifting because of mining done in the area.

As ERR’s Aktuaalne kaamera newscast reported on Tuesday, the problems with the apartment buildings started well before Estonia regained its independence from the Soviet Union. The houses were built in the mid-1970s in the heyday of local oil shale and phosphorite mining.

Plenty of the houses have been fixed up with steel anchors and other reinforcements, but problems continue despite all efforts made to stabilize them. Though there is no clearly identified reason for the general state of decay of the quarter, there are suspicions that the ground the houses were build on is shifting due to collapsing mine shafts below.

“There is some kind of shift going on, because the stairwell of our second entrance was slanted, completely out of place. It was fixed, but now it has sagged away again, and there’s a crack next to the stairs as well,” one of the residents explained to Aktuaalne kaamera.

Cracks in the walls are common everywhere in the area, though according to the residents the fact that the problems mainly affect the entrance areas of the houses makes the situation seem even stranger.

Locals would like a specialist to look into the problems and compare previous data about how much the ground had shifted with current information. The problem has become too big for the local owners’ associations, who are unable to keep up with the necessary repair work.

According to the mayor of Kohtla-Järve, Ljudmila Jantšenko (Center), the city is planning to help the residents in cooperation with the state.

“We’ve been told by the Ministry of Economic Affairs that a new structure will be put in place next year that will deal with this kind of problem, and then there will be some kind of solution,” Jantšenko said, adding that at the moment nobody had any idea what exactly was causing the problems.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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