Alexander Senkevich, the Mayor of Mykolaiv, spoke to UN News about the city’s recovery efforts and the role of the United Nations in spite of the ongoing shelling. He said, “We were bombed for 230 days, 159 people died, and 750 were injured. A lot of the city was destroyed due to the shelling.”
Despite the war, the city continued to function and journalists who visited the area noted that the citizens were cleaning up quickly. Some had already forgotten about the war, but the mayor noted that it was not that simple. He explained that half of the city’s buses had been taken to the front and a quarter of the remaining ones were destroyed during shelling.
Since April of last year, the city has been using water from the Southern Buh River, however, it cannot be purified to a drinkable level due to the salt content. This issue was further exacerbated by an explosion at the Kakhovka hydroelectric power station. The city’s water intake was located on the Dnipro River, 73 kilometres away, and it was destroyed, now lying beneath seven metres of water.
The mayor expressed his gratitude for the UN’s support, particularly during difficult times. He said that the UN collected data on the needs of the population and provided water, food, and other types of aid to the citizens. Before the war, almost half a million people lived in Mykolaiv, but now only 350,000 are registered in the city, including those who have fled from other parts of Ukraine.
Life is slowly improving and small businesses are beginning to operate again, but larger ones remain stalled due to electricity and water supply issues. The estimated damage to the city is $860 million, not including the cost of new construction.
The mayor said that the restoration of the city will be a long process, and when the UN Economic Commission for Europe invited them to participate in the UN4Mykolaiv project, they accepted. He added that their goal is not just to rebuild what was destroyed, but to rethink everything and find a new purpose for the city, its economic potential, and its role in the new Ukraine.
The mayor stated that their vision for the city includes a clean and beautiful Mykolaiv with comfortable public areas, convenient infrastructure, and modern schools. He also said that they want to create businesses and jobs to make sure the city is well-maintained. Additionally, they would like to build an amusement park, such as Legoland or Disneyland, that Ukrainians and foreigners can visit.
Ports are seen as a major investment opportunity post-war. Before the war, Mykolaiv handled up to 40 percent of the goods that were shipped in and out of Ukraine, and they want to make it the gateway to the country. The mayor concluded by saying that he hopes the city will not be forgotten after the end of the war and that the people of Mykolaiv will be remembered as heroes.