New street named after Tatar Queen unveiled in Astana

ASTANA – President of Russia’s Republic of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov and Astana Akim (Mayor) Asset Issekeshev participated in the June 12 opening ceremony of the street named after Kazan Khanate’s Queen Sujumbike in Astana.

The new street is in cottage town in Family Village and is the second street named after a representative of Tatars in the city. There is also a street named after the Tatar poet, Hero of the Soviet Union, Mussa Jalil in the Saryarka district.

“Today we have become even closer. We are fraternal peoples. The opening of this street is a historical event for us. We have a beautiful street named after Nursultan Nazarbayev in our capital. In that way, each step is the rapprochement of our peoples. We appreciate that and thank Kazakh President (Nursultan Nazarbayev), Asset Issekeshev and everyone who made the decision to open the street named after Queen Sujumbike,” said the President of Tatarstan.

He congratulated all Kazakh citizens on the opening of EXPO 2017 and wished it success.

The soul of the Tatar people is reflected in the image of Queen Sujumbike and the Turkic world as well, according to Minnikhanov.

“We are glad that she became the unifying symbol of Tatarstan and Kazakhstan,” he said.

Issekeshev highlighted that this year marks the 13th anniversary of economic and cultural collaboration between the capitals of the two states, saying, “I hope that today’s event will serve the further development and strengthening of fraternal relations between Astana and Kazan.”

Queen Sujumbike is the national hero of Tatarstan. Her name is associated with the Sujumbike Tower. She was the daughter of Nogai nobleman Yosıf bak and the wife of Kazan khans, as well as served as regent of Kazan during the minority of her son from 1549 until 1551.

Poet and scholar Zhanat Askerbekkyzy and Sharban Beisenova, the winner of Alash international literature prize, honoured worker of culture and member of the Writers Union of Kazakhstan are the initiators of the street opening.

Kazakh Honoured Worker Kamil Mullashev, who is also People’s Artist of Tatarstan, State Prize Laureate of Kazakhstan and Tatarstan, made the Queen’s sculpture, which was presented at the opening ceremony.



Astana parks offer EXPO 2017 shows for visitors

ASTANA – Parks become attractive places in the summer where people can spend an hour or two or even a whole day with family or friends. The capital’s green and picturesque open spaces are perfect for those looking for some peace and quiet in the city.

The metropolitan parks will become even more beautiful and modern this year with the addition of events devoted to EXPO 2017.

Huge and centrally located, Stolichniy (Capital) Park is the best place for family recreation. It not only features beautiful architecture and landscape, but also quite a bit of entertainment for children and adults. The park is divided into six sections: a waterside, central alley, composition of four rock shelters with a mosaic interior, fountain and area of Olympians. Stolichniy offers plenty of things to do and activities to enjoy.

Arai Park is a delightful place adjacent to the Yessil River. Thanks to beautiful natural landscapes and sculptures, the area has become something more than just a spot to relax from a bustling city. Visitors can find yurts of different sizes, horse herds and ethnic details of Kazakh culture.

Zheruyik Park, another of the city’s picturesque spots, allows visitors to rest in the cool shade of its trees and freshness of its grass. Located along Bauyrzhan Momyshuly Avenue at the intersection with Magzhan Zhumabayev Avenue, it features a monument honouring the 28 Panfilov Guardsmen. Convenient driveways and parking lots, proximity to residential areas, magnificent nature, picturesque views and the availability of necessary infrastructure make this place an attractive spot for a variety of family leisure activities.

Far from walking paths, one can have a picnic under the trees. The park is also a great place to play active games.

The park near the Palace of Peace and Harmony is another of the capital’s green islands. It is the perfect spot for romantic walks, relaxing with a picnic and watching a fascinating view of the city decorated at night with colourful lights.

This summer, park visitors will witness entertainment programmes devoted to EXPO 2017. The exhibition’s theme of future energy will be reflected in the design of the pavilions and park areas. Fans of robots and street dances, for example, will enjoy a show with a futuristic production featuring dancing artists in LED suits. A variety of performances will be held every day until Sept.10.

The capital has 10 parks with an area of 401,290 hectares, four boulevards measuring 30 hectares and 90 squares totalling 131,940 hectares.



How to Use Astana’s Rental Bikes

ASTANA – Warmer weather has finally returned, and bikes are once again available for rent at stations around the capital. Here’s how to access them.

Photo credit: vechastana.kz

At the moment there are two ways to rent bikes: by card and by SMS.

To rent a bike using a card, first visit velobike.kz and register. The subscription fee for the season is 10,000 tenge (US$32). Students, pensioners and people with limited abilities pay a much reduced fee of 5,000 tenge (US$16).

The plastic card you will need to access the bike costs 1,000 tenge (US$3), and you’re required to keep a minimum balance of 500 tenge (US$1.50).

After registration, you’ll have to visit one of Velobike’s sales departments, located on the second floor of the Keruen City Shopping centre or the third floor of the 7th Continent Business Centre, to pay the fee and pick up your card. Residents will need to present identity cards and non-residents will have to show their passports.

Once you have a user card, you can use any bicycle station. The first half hour of your rental is free; from 31 minutes to one hour the fee is 100 tenge (US$0.30), from one hour to two hours it is 250 tenge (US$0.75), and from two to three hours it’s 500 tenge (US$1.50). After three hours, every hour is charged at 1,000 tenge (US$3). The wheels of the bike are blocked after 24 hours.

More detail and information about fines is available on velobike.kz.

To use the system via SMS, clients should register on the website, then enter their banking card number and pay the chosen rate. The subscription fee is 500 tenge (US$1.50) for one day, 800 tenge (US$2.50) for two days, 1,000 tenge (US$3) for three days and 1,500 tenge (US$5) for seven days. The deposit is 37,500 tenge (US$120), but deposits will be returned after the balance or rental period is finished. Rental prices are the same as for the card.

After your payment is received, a message is sent to your mobile phone that will allow you to rent a bike.

With the first half hour free, users who take bikes from one station to another in fewer than thirty minutes can ride without paying anything.

Smartphone applications that show bicycle station locations and the number of bikes there are available.

Last year, the number of bicycle stations was increased to 150 with more than 1,800 bicycles in use.  Most stations are located within 300-500 metres from each other.

Astana Bike is a project that was implemented by the Samruk Kazyna Sovereign Wealth Fund with the support of the Astana city administration. The project is part of the city’s effort to provide affordable and environmentally friendly transportation.



Astana’s new Nurly Zhol railway station is open for business

ASTANA – The new Nurly Zhol railway station had its first passengers June 1 and a visit from President Nursultan Nazarbayev, according to akorda.kz.

In the run-up to EXPO 2017 in the capital, the whole city is undergoing a make-over – new buildings, hotels and services are being launched – all to accommodate guests during the three-month exhibition.

Nazarbayev, who met with the station’s staff and had the chance to assess some of the surrounding infrastructure, told the press he was impressed.

“Soon, the opening of the expo exhibition will kick off; this is why today I’m checking the new facilities of the capital, which are the new pride of Astana. New air routes are being launched covering the whole of Europe and Asia. These objects show the new look of the capital. The Nurly Zhol railway station is one of a kind, as there is no such station in the entire post-Soviet region,” he said.


The head of state also stressed the dynamic pace of infrastructure and transport development in the entire country; for example, the launch of the high-speed Talgo trains from Astana to all regions.

“All this is being built for the future of our state,” said the President. “These projects were erected within the framework of the Nurly Zhol programme. Only by launching the new terminal will the airport’s capacity increase from three to eight million passengers per year. All the expo visitors will arrive in Astana via these new facilities.”

The Nurly Zhol station complex consists of six levels with an area of ​​126,000 square metres connecting six receiving and sending routes. Passengers get on and off the trains on the third floor. The station is equipped with cutting-edge intelligent control and monitoring systems for passenger traffic, queueing, security and e-ticket sales.

The station’s management said it expects a passenger flow of approximately 12 million people a year. The facility, built according to the latest advanced technologies, has a staff of more than 1,000 people. Trains will now arrive inside the station to ensure passengers are warm during the winter and comfortable in summer’s heat. The new station was constructed according to all international and modern standards and will include energy-saving elevators and escalators to follow the future energy concept.

The expo exhibition will officially launch June 10. The grand opening ceremony, scheduled for June 9, will include parades and theatrical shows with foreign and local stars and celebrities.

The organisers are expecting about five million visitors in the span from June 10-Sept. 10. Approximately 85 percent of the guests will be Kazakh residents, while the remainder will be foreign citizens, the majority from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries and China.





Diverse economic development key to Astana growth, says city official

ASTANA – Investments play a vital role in the development of any country. Much has been done to attract investors to Kazakhstan, but plenty of tasks are ahead. In an interview with The Astana Times, the capital’s Department for Investments and Development head Alisher Abdykadyrov talked about the results and future goals in that direction.

The department is the division of the akimat (city administration) which manages investments, concessions and activity coordination in the Astana – New City special economic zone, as well as other regulated types of investment activities in all sectors of the city’s economy.

“The main goals of the department are contributions to the social and economic growth of the capital through the development and implementation of strategic initiatives, as well as attraction, support and development of the investments in all sectors of the economy, including the industrial and innovation sector and the tourism sector,” said Abdykadyrov.

The department’s main objective is Astana – New City, which has been functioning since 2002 and has repeatedly expanded its territory since its creation. Today, the total area is more than 7,600 hectares, including Industrial Park No. 1 (598.1 hectares), Industrial Park No. 2 (433.1 hectares) and a city light rail line (72.41 hectares).

“The free economic zone Astana – New City targets an accelerated development of Astana, which is reached by attracting investments and using advanced technologies in construction, as well as creation of a modern infrastructure. Also it aims to create highly efficient development, including high-tech and competitive production, of new types of products,” he added.

The zone’s main advantages are exemption from paying taxes and customs duties, infrastructure construction through public funds, single customs space, favourable geographic location, business climate and protection of investors’ rights, as well as full support of projects.

“I think several projects are worth mentioning among the completed ones in Industrial Park No. 1, such as Lokomotiv Kurastyru Zauyty, a plant for the production of locomotives with the capacity of 100 diesel locomotives per year, or Electrovoz Urastyru Zauyty, a plant for the production of electric locomotives which assembles around 50 electric locomotives a year. Another big project is Tulpar-Talgo plant, which makes 150 passenger cars per year. Also [I should mention] Kazakhstan Paramount Engineering, an armoured wheeled vehicle production plant, and Kazakhstan Aselsan Engineering with a GLB precast plant and plant for production of defence electro-optical products,” he said.

In 2016, 10 projects worth a total of 37 billion tenge (US$118.4 million) were put into operation within the industrialisation programme, including projects involving foreign investors and multinational corporations. The biggest projects include Selena Insulations, which produces building materials and was implemented by the Polish multinational corporation ranked as one of the top three producers of polyurethane foam in the world. The cost of the project is one billion tenge (US$3.2 million).

Another huge success was the launch of a paper products manufacturer with the participation of the Turkish company Ipek Kagit, which has a capacity of 4,400 tonnes of product per year. The project cost is 3.4 billion tenge (US$10.8 million). Swissgrow produces fertiliser based on a Swiss technology with the participation of a Turkish investor. The capacity is 150,000 tonnes of fertiliser per year and the project cost is 460 million tenge (US$1.4 million)

“Considering the great work and role of the state, as well as the adopted 100 Concrete Steps Programme of the head of the state, the capital and the country as a whole have great potential and everything necessary for the implementation of investment projects,” said Abdykadyrov.

Taking into account the existing advantages, the akimat identified ten priority sectors, including five key and five supporting areas.

“The first key priority is tourism. Due to the world-class sports and cultural facilities created in the capital, as well as the medical cluster, Astana will become an international centre for event, business and medical tourism. The second one is a construction cluster, including new technologies in construction, new materials and engineering, which will ensure a favourable growth of the capital, both on a territorial and economic scale. The third is development of the financial centre. Astana International Financial Centre will have a special set of conditions for world investors, such as an independent legal system based on the principles of English common law, tax incentives, a simplified visa and labour regime, the modern infrastructure of the EXPO international exhibition and communication with major world financial centres via direct flights,” Abdykadyrov explained.

“Number four is modern production, including solutions for smart cities. The fifth one is public services and international organisations, which means attraction of regional headquarters of international organisations to Astana and formation of proposals on improving national regulation in the sphere of non-profit organisations,” he said.

Abdykadyrov noted the supporting sectors are vocational education, health (medical tourism), trade and logistics and creative divisions, as well as culture and sport.

Assessing the last year, the results were decent despite the economic challenges.

“Over the past year, the volume of investments in fixed assets amounted to more than 837 billion tenge (US$2.67 billion). For three months of 2017, according to statistical data, investments in fixed assets amounted to 122.7 billion tenge (US$392.3 million),” he said.

“In general, the akimat is doing a lot of work in the field of investments; new potential investors are being searched on a regular basis. Active work is underway on public-private partnership projects that will reduce the burden on the local budget. This year, 10 industrial projects are planned to be put into operation, including the NYK Line (transportation) and logistics terminal (Japan),” he added.

A great deal of attention is paid to the companies that addressed possible investments following visits by the head of state and capital’s mayor to foreign countries.

“For example, we are cooperating with Calatrava Grace Corporation, with United Arab Emirates’ companies, Dubai Investments and Sabis International School,” he said.

The department hopes EXP0 2017, taking place from June 10 to Sept. 10, will also give new impetus to existing businesses and an influx of domestic and foreign investment into the capital.



Astana botanical garden to open in December

ASTANA – The construction of the botanic garden along Kabanbai Batyr Avenue will be completed in December, according to the city akimat (administration) press service. The garden will be open to the public throughout the year.

“The arboretum will be spread over a hundred hectares on the left bank of the city. Visitors will find an indoor greenhouse, artificial pond, running and cycling paths there. Exotic plants and about 55 species of palm trees will appear in the greenhouse. Another 600 species of trees that never grew in Kazakhstan will be brought from Europe,” said Astana-Zelenstroi Deputy Chairperson in charge of production Bibigul Bektemisova.

The administration of botanic garden plans to plant approximately 35,000 trees until the end of the year, added Bektemisova.

The botanic garden will also become a scientific laboratory, where educational, environmental activities and experiments on the cultivation and maintenance of new species of trees and shrubs in the climatic conditions of Astana will be held.

The energy supply of botanic garden greenhouse will be produced by innovative technologies with air humidity regulation.

Alleys, zones of water devices, public parking and catering facilities will be provided for the convenience of guests. The designers of botanic garden wanted to make not just a place of demonstration plants and scientific works, but also a unique natural complex based on a principle of unity with nature. Their idea reflects the interdependence of living creatures and the environment.

The conditions of the natural habitat will be recreated for plants. As for visitors, they will be in the habitat of plants that copies the natural environment. The formation of artificial relief will be used to transform inconvenient territories in all climatic zones of the Botanic Garden.

A working group monitored in February the growing and keeping tropical and subtropical plants in the climatic conditions of Kazakhstan in the Petropavlovsk Botanical Garden . Ravil Ryazapov, the honoured agronomist of Kazakhstan, professor and the creator of greenhouse in Petropavlovsk, was invited to help as an expert and scientific consultant.

“The exposition of the Petropavlovsk Botanical Garden surprised the representatives of the working group and we were asked how we managed to save plants in the conditions of northern Kazakhstan,” said Ryazapov, according to pkzsk.info.



New terminal officially opened at capital’s airport

ASTANA – The new $256 million terminal at the capital’s airport had an official opening May 31 attended by President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Photo credit: informburo.kz.

The terminal was implemented within the Nurly Zhol programme and its construction began in 2014, noted Astana International Airport Director General Radilbek Adimolda.

“The airport was launched in 2004 with a throughput capacity of three million passengers. We exceed this figure today; there were 3.6 million passengers last year… The operating terminal is 25,000 square metres. We are putting an additional 47,000 square metres into effect. Throughput capacity will be increased from three million to 8.2 million passengers accordingly. Therefore, passengers of both international and domestic flights will feel comfortable,” he said in an interview with journalists.

Photo credit: informburo.kz.

Photo credit: informburo.kz.

The terminal was built in line with modern standards and has a VIP area, six new airport ramps and an up-to-date security system. The upper floor includes an office area with laptops and Wi-Fi, six different seating areas and restaurants.

“There are even some capabilities in baggage processing… A system reclines any suspicious baggage by itself and puts it in another section of our terminal and the baggage is to be checked right away. A lot of attention goes to safety. It is a pressing issue nowadays,” he stressed.

In Kazakh currency, the cost of construction was more than 80 billion tenge and about 1,000 professionals were involved in the process.

“We are currently servicing from 10,000-12,000 passengers per day. New flights are being added now and traffic will be growing accordingly and we hope for a good future for us,” he added.

The terminal was launched in test mode June 1. Five-six days are needed for certain procedures, which are a requirement by airline companies, and then the facility will be placed into operation.

Approximately 400 people, including border and customs service, police, airport services and airline personnel, will be working in the new terminal, reported Tengrinews.

“Our bridges that have two movable gates are a uniqueness of the project. Meaning two gates will be used at the same time… This was a hard thing to do before, but servicing two aircraft simultaneously is now possible any time,” said airport managing director Kuandyk Ryspayev, according to the news report.



Astana is ready for EXPO 2017, Mayor says

ASTANA – These days, Astana is probably the busiest and most sleepless city in Central Asia. In an exclusive interview with The Astana Times, Akim (Mayor) of Astana Asset Issekeshev talks about the most relevant issues for the capital, the development of the transport system, the attraction of investments and, of course, the city’s preparedness for the highly anticipated EXPO 2017 to be held under the theme of Future Energy.

Asset Issekeshev

There is very little time left before the opening of EXPO 2017. Is the city ready for the anticipated event? Is everything going according to plan?

The akimat (city administration) has established a special headquarters for preparing the city for EXPO. All activities are conducted in accordance with the deadlines. All the services of the city are working in an amplified mode. In general, the city is ready to receive and accommodate more than 2 million tourists from within Kazakhstan and abroad.

There are sufficient rooms to accommodate all the guests in the amount of the 35,000 people expected to arrive at hotels and apartments. A reservation department was established and 10 regions have already reserved rooms for their delegations. Eighteen residence halls will accommodate 40,000 students from the regions. Accommodations will also be provided for seconded employees of law enforcement agencies and volunteers.

For the comfortable stay of foreign tourists, online registration was introduced directly in hotels.

According to the application dossier, on the day of the maximum peak load, 110,000 seats are required. There are 273 restaurants in the city with 80,000 seats, 460 cafes with 23,000 seats and 27 canteens with 3,000 seats. Today, 850 food points provide 116,000 seats, with emphasis on different cuisines.

All issues of the city’s food security have been resolved.

We expect growth of food consumption by 20-30 percent – up to 160,000 tonnes for three months.

The storage capacity in the city is sufficient.

The schedule of fairs and deliveries of products from Central Asia has been approved. For more than 30 products that are under the risk of deficit and appreciation, we have developed a special programme together with trading enterprises and banks in order to stabilise them.

A detailed programme of cultural and sporting events was formed. All 93 exhibition days have scheduled events.

Most of the events will be held on the territory of the exhibition, while the Ministry of Culture and akimat will be organising events throughout the city.

More than 18 sports competitions at an international level will take place in the capital, including the Cups of the President of Kazakhstan in tennis and football, various championships of the world and Asia, and international tournaments. There will be the Astana Duathlon 2017 on June 25, the Astana Triathlon 2017 on July 30 and the Astana Marathon 2017 on August 27.

In addition to volunteers from the Astana EXPO 2017 national company, 1,000 city volunteers who speak foreign languages will help in organising events, as well as logistics at the airport and railway stations. Eight information kiosks with hand-outs, memos and instructions for tourists in four languages have begun operations. Tourist routes and audio guides have been prepared in five languages.

A new airport terminal and a new railway station will be introduced on time.

We are launching seven additional shuttle bus routes, which will be serviced by 167 new buses. They will connect EXPO with remote areas of the city and pass through the most attractive places in the city. For 11 operating city routes, it is planned to additionally launch 103 new buses.

All issues have been worked out with the city’s Department of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Prosecutor General’s Office and the National Security Committee within the interdepartmental working group. Protection of public order in the city will be provided by the reinforced Astana garrison and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Kazakhstan with a total of 8,867 employees.

On the territory of the city about 3,000 new cameras were installed. At sites close to the EXPO territory another 2,165 cameras were installed as well.

For clear coordination and prompt response, a Situation Centre has been established, and 123 emergency situations have already been determined, with response algorithms worked out.

To ensure affordable and high-quality medical care, an operational headquarters was created at the EXPO 2017 site. The territory will accommodate six first-aid posts and a medical centre. Also 13 city medical institutions and national clinics have been prepared.

Understanding the great responsibility that the large number of tourists and visitors represents, we launched projects for landscaping, planting and decorating the city. Within a month, major works on landscaping will be completed.

On the eve of expo, the city’s cultural facilities are also being prepared for the reception of numerous foreign guests. The ethno-memorial complex ‘Atameken Map of Kazakhstan,’ the Baiterek Monument and the Triumphal Arch Mangilik El will be presented with updated appearances and new content after completion of works.

In your opinion, what are the most urgent problems existing in the city today? What is being done to solve them?

In the 100 Steps programme, President Nursultan Nazarbayev set the task of making Astana one of the leading centres in the Eurasian space. The akimat continues to work in this direction to make the city clean, comfortable, beautiful, hospitable and safe. We set the task of developing public spaces, places for family leisure, for walking and cycling.

We conducted a sociological study to understand what residents of Astana need to be happy about the city. In addition, thousands of requests are received every day through the 109 call-in service. I want to say that we have an understanding of what key issues are bothering Astana residents, whether they live in Koktal or on the left bank.

For us, contact is important; we are developing a partnership system. After all, by working together, reacting and listening, we form the culture of the “active citizen” – someone who is not only unhappy about something, but also knows that the city authorities listen to him or her, that he or she has the opportunity to influence these or other issues. Thereby, he becomes more responsible. Taking this approach into account, we have adjusted the Astana Development Programme until 2020, the main goal of which is the social well-being of the population.

There are two tasks, the solution of which will ensure the welfare of citizens. The first is improvement of the quality of life. This is about the environment in which we live, including housing, public transport, ecology, health, education, people’s safety, kindergartens, sports and leisure. The second task is to ensure the growth of incomes of the population through the development of small and medium-sized businesses and creation of new jobs. Within its framework, we have identified the key tasks that we can solve in three years, taking into account financial resources and on a phased basis.

Look at the world experience – New York, London, Singapore. Each of these megacities has priority tasks and secondary ones. It is impossible to take on everything at once. For example, one of the 20 steps is the social development of the city. Here, we defined 32 social standards that should be accessible to any resident. The city was conditionally divided into 129 sectors, with about 10,000 people each. Each sector should have polyclinics, schools, bus stops, food stores, sports sections and playgrounds. This is done to reduce unnecessary traffic flows. If every square has everything, then there will be no need to go somewhere by car. We have an understanding of what those sectors are missing. Some areas need clinics, parks and gardens, more retail space, pharmacies and other things.

Lately a lot has been done to improve the city’s transport system, but there is still traffic congestion. Are there any further changes planned? What should we expect?

We have 350,000 vehicles that are registered in the city, plus about 100,000 that are transit and non-resident. A total of 400,000 – 450,000 vehicles are moving around the city on a daily basis. To change this situation, we set the task of increasing the share of the population using public transport from 33 percent to 45 percent. For this, we bought 380 new buses. In addition to the construction of roads leading to the new residential areas, the number and length of bus routes will increase.

The comprehensive plan provides measures until the end of 2019, including the construction of a light rail tram that is to be completed in 2019. A total of 18 stations will be built on the way from the new railway station to the international airport. The road network is developing as well. At the moment, 13 roads are being built linking the new railway station, airport, botanical garden and the area around EXPO.

The construction of the 47-km Small Ring Road is 48.5 percent complete and is already ready for operation. Its completion will allow more than 90,000 cars to bypass the centre of the city.

There are medium-term projects. We have started designing more than 10 interchanges. In 2018, we will build those that are the most priority ones – four interchanges with aboveground and underground passages. Construction of 12 pedestrian crossings will be carried out separately.

Another area of work is the introduction of “smart” traffic lights. This year, 90 key intersections will be connected, which will create a “green wave;” this will allow us to manage traffic. For the safety of people, we will install illuminated pedestrian crossings. There are a number of other measures that, in their entirety, should ensure the resolution of the traffic issue.

As for changing the working schedules, this is one of the measures that is used around the world. For example, in Minsk, each company has its own schedule; in Beijing, if the number of a car ends with a certain number, then on particular days it cannot drive around the city. There are more stringent measures, as in Singapore with its toll roads. There are streets in the centre of the city where the toll is very high, so people do not go there at all.

And what is here? Forty-five percent of traffic is in the morning hours. That is when everyone is rushing to different places by the same time at 9 a.m.

Therefore, we propose to divide the streams. Now, many residents are already working by this schedule. For example, builders start working at 7 a.m. Akimat and city services are open from 8.30 a.m. The police starts at 6 a.m. We did not change the time of schools and kindergartens. Currently, the number of schoolchildren in the city is about 130,000 and the number of students is 85,000. At the moment, the student schedule is discussed jointly with the Ministry of Education and Science. We suggest a start time of 9:30 a.m. or 10 a.m.; Public Service Centres and banks are also recommended to open at 10 a.m. The load is expected to decrease from about 45 percent to 36 percent.

The second measure is a restriction of the movement of freight transport, which is also used in many countries of the world. That means that the freight transport, including all communal equipment, will move only from 11 p.m. until 6 a.m.

Let’s talk about the investment attractiveness of Astana. What is the trend? What is most attractive for investors?

In general, Astana is one of the youngest and most dynamically developing capitals in the world, including in terms of investment attractiveness. Over 19 years, investments in fixed assets have grown by more than 40 times and their total volume has exceeded 7 trillion tenge (US$22.4 billion).

The akimat is doing a lot of work in the sphere of attracting investments: new potential investors are being sought on a regular basis. A separate Astana Invest organisation was created under the Socio-Entrepreneurial Corporation Astana, which is responsible for attracting investments. A railway engineering cluster has been formed, small and medium business is developing and an innovative cluster is being formed at Nazarbayev University.

The key area for attracting investments is the Special Economic Zone Astana – The New City, which includes an industrial park and an administrative and business centre. Its territory is more than 7,600 hectares.

The main objectives of the Special Economic Zone are accelerated development of the city of Astana by attracting investments and using advanced technologies in construction, as well as creating modern infrastructure and highly efficient, high-tech and competitive industries developing new types of products.

On the territory of Industrial Park No. 1, 65 investment projects are being implemented, and 41 of them have been put into operation. In 2016, under the Industrialisation Programme, 10 projects worth 37 billion tenge (US$118.6 million) were launched on the territory of the Industrial Park.

Taking into account all the global challenges of the last year, the akimat has adjusted the City Development Programme to 2020, which has two main directions – the growth of welfare, the increase in the quality of life of the population, and the transformation of Astana into a global smart city.

Global megacities and their economic impact were analysed. Ten priority sectors that ensure sustainable economic growth taking into account and the already existing advantages of the city were identified.

The first sector is tourism. Astana will become an international centre for business and medical tourism due to its world-class sports and cultural facilities. The second is a construction cluster, including new technologies in construction, new materials and engineering that will ensure a favourable growth of the city. The Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC) is the third sector. The centre provides conditions for global investors including an independent legal system based on the principles of English law, tax benefits, simplified visa and labour regimes, modern infrastructure and direct flights to the major financial centres. Modern production sectors including solutions for a smart city are also important. Another sector is public services and international organisations. Regional headquarters of international organisations should be attracted to Astana. Proposals should be provided to improve national regulation in the sphere of non-commercial organisations. The list of priority sectors also includes vocational education, healthcare, trade and logistics, creative sectors, culture and sports.

Private-public partnership mechanisms and all favourable conditions will be created to attract investments to these priority sectors.

Smart specialisation has also been developed. Five centres of competence are being created in Astana with the participation of leading global companies. These are the centres of urban and agricultural technologies, medical technologies, energy, and financial technology. Start-ups will be supported as part of these initiatives.

You are a very active user of Facebook. How does this practice affect your activity as Akim? Does it help you see new issues or is it a platform for communicating with citizens?

Working in social networks is the starting point. We have interactive platforms for discussing new innovative projects, including those coming from residents. There are a lot of suggestions, including from experts proposing options on optimising the city’s development, also complaints and opinions of residents, as well as discussion about measures that can improve life. In fact, everything is done with a mind to residents.






World-renowned musicians to perform at May 26-29 Astana Keshteri festival

ASTANA – Astana will host the Astana Keshteri music festival for the sixth time May 26-29 at three venues, reported Tengrinews.kz.

According to the organisers, this is one of the most important cultural events in the country. Its main goal is to allow the widest audience to get to know the masterpieces of world art. Therefore, tickets for concerts are always distributed free of charge. Their distribution will start May 16 at the Organ Hall of Kazakh National University, 33 Pobedy Avenue. The contact number is 87786114798.

The festival will present the audience four evenings with the participation of recognised music masters from around the world, including performers of classical, popular and variety music.

The evening of classical music will be May 26 at 7 p.m. at the Astana Opera, where one of the brightest cello players of the younger generation Alexander Ramm and the Honoured Artist of Russia Natalia Trull (piano) will perform. The Symphony Orchestra will also perform, conducted by the Honoured Worker of Kazakhstan Abzal Mukhitdinov

On May 27, the Organ Hall of Kazakh National University of Arts will host an evening of chamber-vocal music at 7 p.m. The leading soloist of the capital’s opera Maira Mukhamedkyzy, Honoured Art Worker of Kazakhstan Timur Urmancheyev (piano) and other musicians will perform that day.

Martin Sander (Germany), professor of organ at the Hochschule für Musik (University of Music) Detmold and at the University of Music in Basel, who is also a jury member in international competitions will be performing at the same venue on May 28 at 7 p.m.

The jazz evening will take place in the Palace of Peace and Harmony on May 29 at 7 p.m. A legend of world jazz, five-time Grammy winner Randy Brecker and Kazakh jazz band conducted by Aleksandr Belyakov will perform. Deborah Davis from the United Stated will sing.

The festival is held on the initiative and under the patronage of Dariga Nazarbayeva, who heads the board of trustees of the Degdar Humanitarian Fund.



Astana taxi companies form single association, large unified service

ASTANA – Astana’s taxi companies have formed into a single association called  Astana Taxi and will now have a uniform taxi design, tariff’s and point-of-sale for card payments.

Photo credit: astana.gov.kz

Hundred of car keys were handed over to taxi companies, such as Taxi Zhebe under the Zhebe brand and Autotrans Hozu (Eco taxi), according to the press service of the capital’s city administration.

“The lowest fare from Eco or Zhebe taxi operators was 750 tenge (US$2.37) before, it will be 500 tenge (US$1.58) now,” Deputy Akim (Mayor) of Astana Malika Bekturova said.

The project addresses safety and convenience for residents and visitors of the capital by increasing the amount of a legal carrier vehicle, according to the press service.

Getting 200 more cars ready and launch is currently underway as part of the project. More taxi vehicles are to be obtained prior to the opening of EXPO 2017, including 300 new cars and 300 units from working taxi companies.

All participants of this programme have a signed agreement with Astana’s city administration, where terms for drivers’ training, abidance by all statutory regulations for a car’s appearance, technical condition and single fares rates are shown.

Cars are assembled in Kazakhstan, in accordance with an official instruction of the head of state for supporting the domestic automotive industry and creating a single taxi service in Astana, Almaty and other regions.

The press service of the akimat noted that the project’s second stage and additional services will be implemented in Astana by September. Additional 300 taxi cars will begin their work and free Wi-Fi will be provided for passengers inside cabs.

The new taxi service will also offer a single call centre, a convenient mobile app, Astana Taxi, and taximeter inside every taxi vehicle.