Uzbekistan’s acting president Shavkat Mirziyoyev has been busily touring the regions and vowing to improve people’s lives as he tries to bolster his legitimacy ahead of December 4 elections.
In concrete terms, Mirziyoyev is pledging to build homes, improve provision of household electricity and gas, and create a more efficient transportation system. Although his victory in the December 4 presidential election is not in any doubt, Mirziyoyev is energetically trying to raise his public profile and have it associated with major, life-enhancing infrastructure.
On October 1, while he was in the Syrdarya region, around 100 kilometers outside Tashkent, the acting leader visited a power station that serves as the largest provider of electricity for central Uzbekistan.
He then traveled to the regional capital, Gulistan, and dropped in on the building site of a multistory residential complex intended for hard-off families. A state television report showed Mirziyoyev stressing that the apartments were being provided to buyers on preferential loan terms and that they should be distributed fairly to those in need.
All the way in the far western edge of Uzbekistan, in the officially autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan, Mirziyoyev demanded that works be speeded up to modernize the Takhiatash thermal power station.
“Without completion of this project, the development of industry in Karakalpakstan and Khorezm will not be possible — it is necessary to speed us this project, which is important for the region,” he said.
Mirziyoyev’s most eye-catching public feat, however, occurred in Tashkent’s southern Sergeli district, the site of the slum-like Sputnik neighborhood — a sprawl of wooden shacks built in 1966 following a devastating earthquake. Those wooden homes were meant to be temporary dwellings, but people live in them still.
State and state-friendly media are lapping it all up.
“During a meeting with public representatives, city government officials and specialists, Shavkat Mirziyoyev highlighted the priority of implementing a major [construction] program for Tashkent for 2017-2022 that will see the building of 500 apartment buildings in Sergeli. This important project will create housing for almost 30,000 families,” news website uzreport.uz said.
Plans for the Tashkent’s metro system have created even more excited chatter online.
Podrobno.uz published a map of the planned new-look metro network, which would see the addition of around 26 stations. A six-stop line — the third in the gird — was inaugurated in 2001, but no further stations have been added to the network since then.
Tashkent metro system currently comprises 29 stations and extends over 39 kilometers — an arrangement that struggles to provide for a city that on paper counts 2.8 million residents, but that is in reality almost certainly home to more.
Sign up for Eurasianet's free weekly newsletter.