NEWS

Post-quake reconstruction plan stalled

Only a third (or even fewer) of the homes being built in Ano Liosia as part of the reconstruction program for victims of the 1999 earthquake have been completed. Most were signed over to the owners while still half-built. Just 29 of the total 1,022 have been completed. Most of the owners have moved into these uncompleted structures because they wanted to get out of the temporary homes in which they had been living since the quake – that is, those owners who were not so deeply in debt that the banks got there before them. The effects of the quake were enormous. Over 1,600 homes were destroyed and 4,400 sustained serious damage. About 30,000 local residents had to move into tents or container homes. The Environment and Public Works Ministry and the Ano Liosia Municipality established a program of reconstruction, the only one of its kind in Athens, and presented it as the rebirth of an entire town. A few years later, Costas Simitis, then prime minister, hastened to inaugurate the first homes completed amid much fanfare in the media about the success of the project. But that’s not how things worked out. «The goal was an integrated approach to the reconstruction of a wide area, including all designs from geological surveys to construction,» said Dimitris Raftopoulos, head of Ano Liosia Municipality’s technical services. «The project included the construction of 1,000 buildings (2,500 homes) in an area of 110,000 square meters. In 2001 the contract was awarded to the Aktor-Technodomiki-TEB consortium, supervised by the municipality’s technical services.» Local residents who wanted to rebuild their homes under the program were asked to state the desired size. The anti-seismic structures were supposed to be financed by the European Union and the basements by the Public Investments Program. The owner was to pay for the rest by means of an interest-free loan (163,400 drachmas per square meter, plus social security payments and VAT) and their own resources. The municipality undertook to coordinate payments to the contractor. The housing program also included an extended refurbishment of open spaces, which was to «change the town’s image,» but this never happened.