Municipal crackdown on litterbugs

In theory, as of yesterday Athens municipal authorities were in a position to receive 20 euros for every cigarette butt nonchalantly tossed in the capital’s gutters, and 50 euros for every dog mess on the narrow pavements. A series of draconian fines that came into effect yesterday ranged from 20 euros for the messy smokers to 4,000-8,000 euros for spraying graffiti on statues and in archaeological sites. The maximum fine, 9,000 euros, will be for mixing hospital waste with domestic rubbish. Mayor Dora Bakoyannis said the idea was to clean up the city rather than to provide cash injections to the city’s coffers. «The purpose of these fines is by no means to improve the municipal finances or to boost our revenues,» she told Flash radio. «We must realize that if one person in 50, or in 100 or in 1,000 lacks a sense of social responsibility and respect for the others, that is enough to create the impression of a dirty city.» It is unclear to what extent the new regulations – which include 20-euro fines for leaving rubbish bags outside the often overflowing dumpers provided by the municipality – will be enforced in an area inhabited by close to a million people. Bakoyannis said the job will be done by the municipal police force, which currently numbers 130 men and women. She also pointed out that another 500 police employees will be hired by the end of June. This force of just over 600 will also be responsible – among other duties – for cracking down on the thousands of illegal street vendors that sell their wares on the city center’s streets, ensuring that motorists in densely built-up areas do not park their cars in front of pavement ramps for the disabled, and do not drive on pedestrian walkways.

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