NEWS

Pedestrian precincts go on a long walkabout

Residents of Malamou, a small street in Metz, are wondering how long it takes to construct a pedestrian precinct in Athens. Four years ago, their street was included among the number awaiting approval, but the project is still snarled up in red tape at the Athens Municipality. About eight years ago, residents of the section of Malamou bordered by Trivonianou and Voulgareos streets (near the First Athens Cemetery) began the process of requesting the pedestrian precinct. We collected signatures and made an official application to City Hall, says one local resident. That’s when the bureaucratic tangle began. The application went through all the obligatory stages and a decision to amend the town-planning act and construct a pedestrian precinct was published in the Government Gazette (663, July 30, 1997). So far so good, except that the process stopped there, as it has with hundreds of applications. In search of information, Kathimerini initially contacted the office of Tryphon Kasoumbis, head of the city’s pedestrian precincts department. Such decisions might be made by the hundred. But in order to be implemented, they must be included in the annual schedule of works that will be carried out by the municipality, came the reply. As to whether this street was included in the upcoming program, the blunt response was, Call 195 (the municipality’s citizens’ inquiry line) and ask. The inquiry line referred the call to the wrong office where, however, extremely helpful officials recommended contacting road works’ director Dimitris Tarnaris, who had equally discouraging news to impart: Thousands of roads might be programmed, and they might be turned into pedestrian precincts at some point. There is no money for pedestrian precinct projects. None of them was included this year. To find out the number of pedestrian precincts constructed in recent years, Kathimerini sent a fax, at Tarnaris’s recommendation, to the municipality’s press office. The office of the city’s general secretary informed the paper that in the past three years, within the bounds of the municipality, pedestrian precincts have been constructed in Zalokostas, Argyriou, Ypatis and Alkioneos (1998) and Elpidos streets (2000-2001). In recent years, however, they explained, the prevailing principle is to lighten the traffic on streets instead of making pedestrian precincts. There are more than 100 streets which have been legally listed as pedestrian zones but which have yet to be constructed. There is no way of knowing when this particular pedestrian precinct will be built, according to the press office: The decision about which works are to be included in the 2002 technical program will be made in conjunction with the drawing-up of the 2002 budget. The example of this single street in Metz appears to be just one among hundreds, and it seems that residents of streets hoping for the completion of pedestrian precincts still have a long wait ahead of them. As a country that has known terrorism on the part of the USA, since the embargo is a form of terrorism, Cuba does not want another nation to suffer from it. We have always said and we repeat that we will never become enemies of the people of the United States. We do not want anyone to be harmed. Nevertheless, we realize that the US itself is responsible for what is happening, because it has managed to spread hate among people as well as the desire for revenge because of the things (it) has done.