Astana improves services, enhances security to welcome EXPO 2017 visitors

ASTANA – In anticipation of the EXPO 2017 international specialised exhibition, the city administration is taking a holistic approach to preparing for the country’s main event in a decade. The capital’s municipal enterprises and businesses are completing preparatory works to provide a safe and positive experience for tourists and citizens during the informative and recreational event.

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Malika Bekturova

“Construction of all infrastructure facilities for EXPO is nearing completion and will finish by June 1. We have detailed construction schedule requirements for roads, infrastructure and additional substations. The new passenger terminal at Astana International Airport will open June 1 and the new railway station will be ready May 25. New hostels and 16 more hotels will provide an additional 1,500 beds by June 1. So, all construction work continues in accordance with the approved schedules and we have no doubt that they will be completed,” said Deputy Akim (Mayor) Malika Bekturova in an interview for this story.

Given the scale of the upcoming event, the city’s administration is strengthening security measures by installing more video surveillance systems and conducting stress tests with relevant agencies in all directions: mass gatherings of people, power outages, water shutdowns and peak loads.

“We are now implementing a project on video surveillance that has several components. The first one implies installation of new surveillance cameras, visual fixation equipment in public places and parks, at intersections and along streets and highways. The second component is the integration of existing cameras; surveillance systems at residential areas and places of mass gatherings of people such as frequently visited shopping malls and other places are connected to the situational centre that is already operating. This centre coordinates the work of emergency services, the national security committee, fire safety, ambulance, department of internal affairs and other municipal services of the city. There is also a call centre for all potential emergencies. In addition, algorithms for responding to a particular situation have been developed. We are now cooperating together with the EXPO 2017 National Company to work out various non-standard situations. We will be training during April and May,” said Bekturova.

“We are also working with the owners of public catering facilities, cafes and restaurants. Businesses began preparing in advance for this event. There is a programme ‘Recommended by EXPO 2017’ featuring many participants. That is, today there is a menu in three languages. In general, personnel have been undergoing special training; some of the staff members speak one or more foreign languages. We also conduct trainings with the sanitary and epidemiological service on a permanent basis focusing on sanitary rules and regulations,” she added.

These trainings are constantly enabling businesses to thoroughly prepare for the EXPO. In addition, a cultural tour guide programme was launched to offer services for foreign visitors.

“By the beginning of June, Astana guides will complete training and will receive certificates of official guides. We will post their photos with contact details and describe in what languages ​​this or that guide provides tours on the Smart Astana app and Astana Guide app. This is an opportunity for all tourists to choose guides that know reliable facts about Astana and contact them,” she said.

Additional bus routes for EXPO facilities will also be introduced to smooth the traffic flow, tackle congestion and offer convenient transport service to the passengers.

“There will be shuttle buses; it is a bus service intended primarily to shuttle passengers between two fixed points. In general, the traffic schedule will be revised taking into account the burden on the EXPO district. Additionally, we are testing a single taxi service that will already be operating in May. A single tariff for taxi service will be applied for the convenience of residents and guests of Astana,” said Bekturova.

A single reservation system is also being introduced for hostels, dormitories and other accommodations. Foreign tourists and guests will be able to book a room and make contacts at information kiosks at the railway stations, airport and the city’s shopping malls.