Stores in the local area have lost incalculable sums over the past two years while the marathon course has been built, dug up and rebuilt. The State has lost even more, having paid twice over for the construction of most of the 31-kilometer (19-mile) road from Marathon. As Kathimerini reported last week, not only has the State paid for sections built by the former contractor (who was declared bankrupt in early March) and which are being dismantled, but for sections that nobody has even touched. Everybody knew According to the schedule the last government presented to the International Olympic Committee, the marathon course was to be ready by end of 2003. It took several months for the Ministry for Public Works (YPEHODE) to realize that European Technical, the company that had undertaken to build the larger part of the project, was facing serious financial problems (which everybody in the market knew). Even when the company handed over part of the road in a very poor state last November for a test event, nobody took action. YPEHODE offices certified that European Technical had built most of the project, so as to cover the company’s expenses for anti-flooding works, much of which it built without the relevant competition ever being completed. The firm simply felt sure it would be assigned the project (with the help of the «mathematical formula» and the «gentlemen’s agreement» among contractors). A recent visit to the marathon route revealed that J&P-ABAX, the company which took over after European Technical was ousted, is tearing up not only the road surface that had been handed over, but also other supplementary work, such as rainwater runoff pipes that were built by the previous contractor. The previous leadership of YPEHODE, which began the process of removing European Technical before the elections, when the workers on the site went on a go-slow strike, claimed that the project would be delivered by the new contractor in early June. But it seems that the situation that J&P-ABAX took over is even worse, because last Thursday YPEHODE Minister Giorgos Souflias said the road would not be handed over before mid-July. Local residents, who are still suffering financially and being inconvenienced by the roadworks, have called for the punishment of those responsible. Who certified that European Technical hand over the first section of the road, despite the fact that it was in a dire state? Why should the Greek State pay twice for a project when money has already been paid for work that was never done? Shoddy work This is certainly not the first time that YPEHODE services have taken delivery of a project that is bristling with shoddy work, while signing for payment of a contractor who has failed to do his work properly. But the marathon course is a blatant example of the way in which public projects are produced in Greece, and which cries out for urgent change by the new government.