Road lord in «ethical» fees biz

Vainule kuuluval maal parkija saab trahvikviitungi.

PHOTO: Mihkel Maripuu

Postimees paid a visit to dwellings at Hansu Road, Haabersti – to check the situation. According to inhabitant called Reimo, an Aleksandr Vain asks locals €50,000 for the road. Should they decline, Mr Vain threatens to set a barrier.

Konstantin Ivanišvili, infamous for like schemes, thinks Mr Vain is acting outright noble towards the people. «Indeed, he is offering these people to take care of the road leading to their homes, but should he do that for free? To the contrary. The people living there want to use the service for free, but things are not done that way,» thinks Mr Ivanišvili.

The man admits to have contacted Mr Vain proposing to purchase Hansu Road himself, in order to «better arrange the service». «Of course I’m interested of the buy. With 230 families there, each paying me €50 a month, I’d be getting €11,500 monthly, meaning they’d be feeding me till [my] death.»

Convinced in the ethics of his business, Aleksandr Vain told the daily Päevaleht that the circle of a street around the apartment blocks, purchased from a bankruptcy auction, was of interest to him as an opportunity to organise parking and add extra parking places. Overnight, signs of paid parking appeared at the road leading to the little apartment area.

On front of the Hansu Road houses, there stands local dweller Simo Soolo, a lawyer. According to him, the businessman’s ethics claim is ridiculous. «To do business on land designated for transport is the same as turning a dwelling into business premises. Nobody thought business could be pursued on land like this,» says Mr Soolo.

The Tallinn city government view was passed to Postimees by its press service. «Hansu Road lacks connection with public roads belonging to Tallinn; the prerequisite for solving the problem is executing the planning of the plot next to it,» said the city’s statement in reference to the street connecting Hansu Road and the Taludevahe Road, the latter belonging to Tallinn. By the way, the street does not officially exist.

The city sees no need for expropriation. The fastest solution, in city governmental eyes, would be an agreement between the parties. 

According to Mr Soolo, an answer like this points to laziness of officials. «Sure, it’s good for them to say: reach an agreement. We do not consider it normal that, out of a bankruptcy estate, for €1,000, a transport road was sold to a third person without notifying the people living in the housing district. If the road owner wants to sell it to us for €50,000, this is a clear case of extortion for profit. Obviously, some kind of a fee needs to be paid when buying or using the road, but it will have to be within the limits of reason,» explained Mr Soolo.

«The topic was deeply discussed at apartment association general meeting; it was decided to have recourse to courts. Had the sum asked been more reasonable, maybe the people had opted otherwise; but now we stand faced with extortion,» said Reimo, a local.

According to Reimo’s knowledge, the land owned by the fee-taker runs along Hansu Road. The said land has been passed by Mr Vain to parking company ParkIT, to provide services. «As the sign popped up, I started to park my car at the other side of the road. The cars parked on Mr Vain’s side of the road get fine tickets attached. Every morning, inspectors prowl the area; even so, the fines are not taken too seriously around here and I haven’t heard of anybody who has actually paid them,» said the man.

According to Reimo, Mr Vain has vowed to install a barrier to the sole entrance to the housing district, if he fails to get an outcome pleasing to him.

Russian speaking Marina, whose parking place is in the apartment house yard, said it has so far only been her guests who have gotten fined when leaving their cars at the Hansu Road edge. «The whole situation is very weird. The cars standing there are like a target for parking inspectors,» said the lady.

Rita (name altered – edit) has lived at Hansu Road for seven long years. She said the thought never ever entered her head that their home could come under a threat like that. «So what do we do now,» she shrugs, at a loss. «All we can do is wait and see what will come out of it. We have a representative who is handling these issues. Surely we are expecting a good outcome, but the absurdity of it all is getting a bit funny.»