NARYAN MAR. The northern region Nenets Autonomous Okrug (NAO) has almost no roads. The main part of the vast territory consists of tundra, crossed by small rivers, and covered by wetlands and lakes.
In the summer, the big river Pechora and the sea is used to get goods to the region, with its 40 000 inhabitants.
During winter, air transports are used, together with ice roads. In November, trucks with water tanks, and tractors pulling heavy metal weights prepare the ice roads. They are built every winter, to protect the sensitive tundra from erosion.
Sasha and Jura are two drivers from the capital Naryan Mar, working together. They drive heavy loads on the ice road from Kharyaga to Naryan Mar, a distance of more than 200 kilometers.
– Many trucks have got stucked and some drivers have even died from cold out on the tundra, driver Sasha explains. Riding in his car gives a strong impression. The lorry, loaded with 20 tons of pork meat, has a hard time getting up the steep slopes at river crossings, and is on two occasions towed up by caterpillars. On other road sections, you have to work with patience through snowdrifts, half meter high . To cover a distance of 200 kilometers takes eight hours in good conditions, but it can also take days, or end up in the ditch.
The skilfull drivers are risking both their cars and themselves to get goods through to the 20 000 inhabitants of Naryan Mar. Another ice road (250 km) goes from Kharyaga to Varnandei in the north, at the Kara Sea coast.
Cover: Driver Sasha Shimko. Photo Kenneth Mikko