Army helps collect Thessaloniki trash

Residents of Thessaloniki are used to seeing military vehicles on their streets on October 28 every year to mark the anniversary of Greece?s entry into World War II but army trucks were rolling through the northern city?s neighborhoods on Thursday as soldiers have been drafted in to help collect more than 1,000 tons of rubbish.

The army?s involvement came after military chiefs reached an agreement with Thessaloniki Mayor Yiannis Boutaris to assist with the collection of trash that has been piling up on the city?s streets for weeks.

Seven army trucks, each of which can carry 35 tons of rubbish, rolled onto Thessaloniki?s streets to augment the efforts of just a handful of municipal trash trucks that are in operation.

The backlog of rubbish has been created by the poor state of the municipality?s lorries, meaning that less than 10 of the 75 available are able to participate in collections. The problem came to a fore late last year, before Boutaris took over the reins of City Hall. Outgoing Deputy Mayor Costas Kazantzidis said on December 27 that trash had piled up because it had been difficult to get hold of spare parts for trash trucks. Kazantzidis said that 35 of the city?s 68 trucks are out of action due to serious mechanical problems and need to be serviced, adding that most of the remaining vehicles also need repairs.

Boutaris helped broker a deal so that Thessaloniki could borrow 15 trucks from other municipalities to help clear up rubbish from the city?s streets in time for New Year?s Eve.

The army has agreed to help with trash collection over the next few days so that the backlog can be cleared. Municipal refuse collectors are helping collect and bag any loose rubbish that has fallen from dumpsters or has been thrown on the streets.

The municipality has also agreed for 10 of its trucks to be repaired so they can return to action soon.