Residents and professional organizations on Crete yesterday blamed the slow progress of road construction in the north of the island for dozens of road fatalities in recent years, following the death at the weekend of three people in a head-on collision. Locals complain that it has taken 20 years and three tranches of European Union funding to build 50 kilometers of a 312-kilometer road network in the island's north. «The island's road network is of a Third World standard,» the president of the Technical Chamber of Greece's western Crete office, Antonis Pitaridakis, told Kathimerini. «Our so-called national road network is narrow, dangerous, poorly lit and badly maintained,» he added. «Crete is in urgent need of new roads, otherwise lives will continue to be lost,» said Yiannis Lionakis, director of the ELPA road assistance group in Iraklion. He said the number of cars on Cretan roads has increased nearly sixfold to 600,000 over the past 40 years but the roads have not been upgraded to handle the extra traffic.