Anavatos reconstruction is still on paper

In 1997, a plan to restore the «fortress town of the Aegean» at Anavatos on Chios was set in motion, but it has yet to take shape. Contracts assigned without competitions, repeated budgetary adjustments, financial irregularities and shoddy work have plagued the restoration project being carried out by the Public Town Planning and Housing corporation (DEPOS SA). Work is at a standstill and the municipality of Omiroupoli is concerned that funds from the Third Community Support Framework (CSFIII) are at risk of being lost. Bureaucratic maze The new ministry leadership is being called upon to apply for new funds to complete part of the project (125,000 euros for the three-story Church of the Virgin), and yet is obliged to delve into the maze of bureaucracy to find out how the initial 600 million drachmas (1.8 million euros) was spent. Everything begins with DEPOS which (without a competition) has undertaken the work on the archaeological site, the Church of the Archangels and the Church of the Virgin. Yet omissions and waste of public money noted by the Project Monitoring Committee and DEPOS’s own technical service was only the beginning of the problems. The State had to overcome the obstacles in order to conclude the Second Community Support Framework (CSFII), which included the project, so it could proceed with CSFIII. In other words, the State had to cover for the contractor which it itself had hired, only to force the contractor to forfeit. After delays by the local government, especially the Culture Ministry and its leadership, last February a new technical brief was submitted, for which approval is still pending. The latest obstacles are related to the changes in the original design, since some people are attempting to put an emphasis on tourism development, in addition to the original goal of highlighting the archeological site itself. The three-year contract signed in May 1997 was funded with 815.7 million drachmas (2.4 million euros) for 60 specific activities at a site that has rightly been compared to the medieval fortress town of Mystras, near Sparta. The original amount, however, was not enough for the ambitious nature of the project, which was scheduled to be completed within 10 years. The budget soon stretched to over 3 billion drachmas (8.8 million euros). Those involved already knew that the provisions of CSFII’s technical bulletin could not be carried out. Excavation works alone, the pointing of the stone walls and the supports for the Church of the Archangels eventually cost 300.7 million drachmas (882,000 euros), the designs 81 million drachmas (238,000 euros), and the contractor’s installation 8 million drachmas (23,000 euros). Another 78 million drachmas (229,000 euros) went on fees for administrators, archaeologists and contractors, council expenses, travel, compensation and other sundries. DEPOS’s payment was 91.8 million drachmas (269,000 euros). Contractors’ fees, set by DEPOS itself, came to 126,424,641 million drachmas (371,000 euros). Yet the job is still unfinished, though over 600 million drachmas (1.8 million euros) has been spent. This is a source of grave concern to the new Culture Ministry leadership, especially Deputy Minister Petros Tatoulis, who visited the island on June 3, and met the ephors of Classical, Byzantine and modern monuments, and local government representatives. Tatoulis called for a general audit of sums spent so far on Anavatos. The ministry wants the job finished, but not before the money has been accounted for.