Since 2008 and before Eurovision, the first European Games and Formula 1 which was held in June of this year, Baku’s seaside ‘Boulevard’ has been decorated with expensive, exotic plants that were imported from a number of foreign countries.
It took months to green – up Baku’s Boulevard.
How much was spent on planting greenery?
Currently, there are more than 3,500 trees, shrubs and flower species along the boulevard, while the number of exotic plants exceeds 56,000. According to the official website of Baku Boulevard, plants are replaced and new species are planted on 6 – month or 3 – 4 year cycles.
However, Baku Boulevard’s official website does not indicate the amount of expenses for the planting, purchasing or the importation of plants from abroad. The Seaside Boulevard Office was unwilling to answer questions in this regard. The only comment given by the Boulevard administration was that “several species of tree cost upwards of 10 – 15,000 euros.”
In its investigation in 2012, Radio Liberty calculated that more than 50 million manat had been spent on the ‘greenification’ of the Boulevard, referring to unofficial sources:
“According to unofficial claims, 50 million manat were allocated from the state budget for trees imported from abroad. A Boulevard employee, who preferred to remain anonymous, says that the price of each baobab is 30 thousand manat. Hantorrium, palm and other trees each cost 5 – 6 thousand”.
The Baku Boulevard Office told Meydan TV that they could not give information pertaining to the expenses of plants.
“They are rare, exotic trees. Does it make any difference to know what their price is? It is important that this is a waste of money”, said an employee of the office who refused to give his name.
Back in 2012, the late director of the Botanical Garden, Oruj Ibadli, told Radio Liberty that 200-year-old baobabs which are typical for Africa’s arid savannas cannot survive Baku’s winds. The botanist stressed that the trees would dry out within a few years.
“Some “foreign trees” dried out because they just couldn’t adjust to Baku’s climate. For example, two baobab tress planted next to the Puppet Theatre dried out because of climate adjustment last year.”
Then there are trees that don’t have a problem with acclimating to the different whether, but which become victim to irresponsibility, neglect and destructive actions.
Take, for example, the 40 large cactus trees planted around “Park Bulvar” shopping and leisure center.
The trees have been damaged in recent years by graffiti carved by knife. Some of the inscriptions read “N + B”, “Barda Boy”, “Tatar Boy”, “Bomb Baby”, “Our love does not die…”
Rafael Niftaliyev, the director of the Utilities, Maintenance and Protection Office of the Baku Boulevard, said in an interview with
that 221 are engaged in the cleaning, 176 in the gardening and 245 in the protection of the Boulevard.
There are also other people employed, for example electricians, watering specialists and mechanics. The number of employees responsible for maintaining the Boulevard is about 1,000. Each hectare of land on the Boulevard is overseen by one worker.
There is no police among the security staff, but there are some hiring requirements, such as physical preparedness and height levels.
They are assigned to the protection of the boulevard after undergoing special courses and trainings.
Rafael Niftaliev also said that the salary of people responsible for the cleanliness of the boulevard is around 330 manat, while the guards are paid 350 manat. The majority of the employees of the Boulevard work in 24 hour shifts.
Given the extensive manpower and money invested in these plants, why are these expensive, exotic plants defiled and turned to trash? Why have no measures been taken to protect them?