Aaron in Azerbaijan

Just another blog about Azerbaijan.

An Electrifying Dilemma

with 3 comments

Recently, there’s been a big move by the electric company, AzerEnerji, to install new electricity meters in homes.  I think it could be a really good system.  Instead of having analog meters and calculating the difference in usage from one month to another in order to figure out a bill, we would just pay ahead of time for electricity and make sure our balance doesn’t go down to zero.  It’s digital and convenient.  It also lets you know when electricity is out in the area, since the meters stop working when there’s no electricity.  This also means that an electric company guy doesn’t have to come into our compound to check the meter, which is inefficient and cumbersome since someone needs to be home for him to do that.  It’s new, digital, and coming to a neighborhood near you!  It’s the new wave in Lənkəran!

Yet, this situation has given us a new dilemma.  Yesterday, three guys from AzerEnerji in Baku and a local guy came by to look at the electric meter.  They had to look at it before discussing how to change out the box for the digital one.  As they were checking it out, they noticed and showed me two wires which were apparently not up to code.  And then proceeded to tell us that this would result in a 5-600 AZN fine for the owner.  5-600 AZN! For a couple of wires that are missing some plastic tubing!  What a pain.  Here’s where it gets interesting though:  The local guy is acquainted with our landlord and is trying to help him out.  He gave us his number to give to Nizami for him to call.  The local, Arif, said he could help us out.  I think this is code for, “Call me, give me some cash, and I will be able to make the problem go away.”  So Nizami can potentially get out of this by paying something like 50-200 AZN and be done with it, saving himself a couple hundred extra bucks.  I think Nizami is a good guy and I wouldn’t want to see the ridiculous regulations visit a 500 AZN fine on him (that’s huge).  On the other hand, I don’t really feel comfortable with the bribe-to-get-out-of-the-ridiculous-situation scheme.  Obviously, I can’t do anything about it, but you can see how this is frustrating.  If fines here were appropriately drawn out and enforced, we could easily avoid this idiocy.


Written by Aaron

August 26, 2010 at 7:00 am

Posted in Uncategorized

3 Responses

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  1. Corruption close to home. Are PCV landlords or host families seen as “marks?” Suggest you ask to see and read the exact regulation, i.e. code which is allegedly being broken. Find some neutral way to let the guy pressing for money to back off and save face. To me, once you cave in to this pressure to pay someone off, they’ll do it again. Also shows that you will not be taken for fools.

    Margaret aka Peggy

    August 26, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    • I think you’re right about the caving in part. And certainly right about asking to see what’s going on in the law. That’s one of my favorite tactics with people who are trying to tell me to do something for them. Unfortunately, it’s not really in my court. It’s my landlord’s decision, (I’m certainly not paying for his poor wiring job!) and he’s going to do what he thinks is necessary to save as much money as he can, which I don’t think we can really blame him for. It’s not as if he has great choices here. As for doing it again, well…they’ve been doing it for years. This isn’t just someone asking for a bribe. It’s a system. While there are some people who are in a position to buck the system, most people here aren’t. And they don’t have the time and resources to overthrow it.


      August 27, 2010 at 3:05 am

    • Oh, and as far as I can tell, PCV landlords and host families aren’t necessarily targets. At least, that’s probably not quite the right way to think about it. Instead, it’s just that if someone like a police officer or taxi driver sees that you are a foreigner, he’s more likely to hike a price for you (taxi) or ask for a bribe (police). When we went to the police station for our local ID cards, the police chief asked for some money and asked how much we were paying our host families (he had heard 1000 bucks…that’s obviously wrong). When they figured out how much it really was, they stopped asking.


      August 27, 2010 at 3:20 am

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