Athens mayor checks works on city center, asks citizens to respect revamped areas
The much-maligned Syntagma Square, Ermou Street and the central Varvakeios Market are soon to be unveiled to the Athenian public with a new look. However, the public is warned, people will have to take care to keep all the areas clean and tidy, or suffer stiff penalties. Earlier this week, Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis visited the construction sites of Syntagma and the market, and took a stroll down Ermou and Athinas, promising that works would be wrapped up soon, in plenty of time for the Olympic Games. The mayor also asked the people of the capital to respect the areas and protect the features that have been added, or else, she said, «we will be compelled to take tough action.» Bakoyannis was a lot more precise with the owners of stores along Athinas who illegally take over the pavements with their tables or wares. She warned that the next inspection of the area would come with stiff fines and penalties if the pavements were not cleared. On her walk down Ermou Street, whose pedestrianization and reconstruction was carried out by the Unification of the Archaeological Sites of Athens company, Bakoyannis noted two problems. The first was that many parts of the street are already beginning to show the wear and tear of time, and damaged parts have not been repaired because the company in charge of the area’s maintenance has not yet begun work. The second problem the mayor noted concerns the unlicensed street vendors one invariably sees in the capital’s main shopping district. According to Bakoyannis, this problem will be tackled with more stringent policing of the area as of early June, when a 500-strong municipal police force will begin monitoring the strip. According to the municipal authorities the problem with unlicensed street vendors has skyrocketed, proof being the fact that only 160 street vendors actually have valid licenses and are assigned a specific location where they are allowed to sell their wares.