War of words erupts over street floods

War of words erupts over street floods

The severe floods on Athens’ main avenues during the heavy rainstorms over the past few days has triggered a blame game between local, regional and central authorities whose overlapping areas of responsibilities are anything but conducive to the central planning needed for the necessary water drainage and flood prevention projects.

There was no letup in the war of words on Friday while heavy rains continued to lash Attica and other parts of the country, causing more floods.

Alternate Interior Minister Stelios Petsas bemoaned that the drains were not being cleaned regularly by municipal authorities.

“It was really disappointing,” he said, while stressing the need in many areas for rainwater drainage projects.

What again became resoundingly clear is that the overlapping of responsibilities continues to raise serious obstacles to decisive action, as this does not allow for the planning and execution of the necessary projects, nor the assignment of responsibility. 

“The drains on Petrou Ralli Street come under the jurisdiction of the Regional Authority of Attica, while the ones on the streets crossing it are the responsibility of the municipality,” said Nelly Papachela, a senior official at the Municipality of Nikaia – Agios Ioannis Rentis, in comments to Kathimerini. 

Papachela, a former local deputy mayor of the Municipality of Athens, emphasized that a case in point is the status of central Athinas Street, which passes in front of City Hall, but is not under the jurisdiction of the Municipality of Athens. 

In many parts of the city, she said, rainwater pipes have a small cross section, either because they are designed to receive a smaller volume of water or due to age, and the necessary projects to rectify the situation are expensive.

In other places, such as Kolonos, where there was flooding, drains are nonexistent as there was no such provision when the roads were first laid. Even worse, the central sewerage network of the EYDAP water utility company doesn’t run through there.

For his part, on Friday, the regional governor of Attica, Giorgos Patoulis, told Kathimerini the drains under his jurisdiction have been cleared. He added that, based on investigations conducted, “the municipalities to a large extent did their job.” However, he added that it is very likely that the drains became clogged due to the increased rainfall, which moved a lot of rubbish.

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