NEWS

Many obstacles delaying work on death trap

Just a few meters away from the site of a tragic road accident that recently claimed the lives of seven children on their way to the Paralympics is a large sign (as large as most hoardings are) erected by the Environment and Public Works Ministry announcing that a proper, secure highway is to be built. Patience is needed, however, until the end of 2007 or early 2008. The Maliakos Gulf diversion is a typical example of what ails the public works construction system. After years of debate over whether to build an underground tunnel, the government decided to go ahead and build 60 kilometers (37 miles) of new highway to bypass the towns of Aghios Constantinos and Kamena Vourla. Contracts were signed for these two sections of highway in 2003, with work to be completed by the end of 2005 or 2006. The third project, for a 17.5-kilometer stretch, is on hold pending a court ruling, and another two, totaling 21 kilometers, are still on the drawing board. Although two projects have begun, they have come up against a number of obstacles either because of general problems plaguing the Greek State (expropriation of the land not yet completed nor public utility networks moved) or because of the way the projects are handled (such as inadequate or out-of-date designs and pressure from contractors to change specifications). The result is that none of the work can be completed before 2007. As for the final two sections, an attempt will be made to have them ready by spring of 2008. Long beforehand, no doubt, the appropriate signs will be erected.