his way to deliver a passenger to work Tuesday
morning, the RadioTaxi stopped half way to its
destination and driver Artyom offered an apologetic
smile and an explanation that the car was out
His was not the only one, as throughout the week
Armenia started to feel the effects of being cut
off from its supply of propane, caused last weekend
by a break in pipes in Russia.
Normally, the country receives eight million
cubic meters of gas a day from Turkmenistan. But
the main pipeline broke down in North Ossetia,
and the reserve line was damaged by a landslide,
leaving Armenia and Georgia cut off.
The effect in Yerevan was quieter streets, except
for the complaints of would-be passengers waiting
for mini-buses. Most of the "mashrukhas"
run on propane (as do many cars and trucks here)
and the unavailability of gas has severely cut
transportation links. (There are about 2000 minibuses
in Yerevan, running about 70 routes.)
say Armenia has enough reserve gas for essential
use for several more days, however, refueling
stations have been closed since Monday.
"About 95 percent of the minibuses serving
Yerevan run on natural gas"
says Areg Barseghyan, head of Yerevan Transport
According to Barseghyan, about half the minibuses
were running by Wednesday. The result is long
lines and overloaded buses.
"There were some 30 people (12 people is
the norm) in the minibus
today", says Gayane Avetyan who takes a minibus
to work. "We had to stop every other minute
either to pick up or to drop someone
Avetyan says the crowded bus she was riding had
"Either the constant stops or way too overloaded
bus caused the brakes to fail. It was scary having
the car run down Massiv hill without brakes."
minibus drivers are taking advantage of the situation
and have increased fares.
"I was asked to pay twice as much as I normally
do," says Vera
Minasyan. "The driver referred it to increased
As Barseghyan from the Transport Department said
there was no official
permission for drivers to increase the ride fees.
"I personally received complaints in this
regard," says Barseghyan. "The increased
fees are illegal and we take measures to cease
Yesterday (January 23), Russian President Vladimir
Putin personally gave an order that the pipeline
must be repaired "in one day".