Digging away

Since the beginning of this year, the road I live on has been dug up five or six times. It is not so much this fact, however, but the actual procedure for the roadworks that troubles me. First of all, there is the arrival of a team of five or six men and a pneumatic drill. One of the men works the drill and a second man shovels away the earth. The rest, who are generally smoking, stand and watch the two who are working. Once they have opened up the road, they disappear, leaving a gaping hole surrounded by piles of earth. Meanwhile, traffic has either been suspended or restricted, according to where the particular hole has been dug. After a day or two, sometimes more, a different five- or six-man team arrives on the scene. One starts poking about in the hole while his workmates stand watching him – smoking. When he has completed his task, he leaves, along with his attentive workmates, and once again the hole is left gaping. The next day, or the day after that, yet another team arrives to fill the hole with earth, and finally – a few days later – a final team is sent to cover the hole with asphalt. I have seen evidence of the same procedure in many other streets and freshly laid sidewalks in Athens. Bewildered residents survey the process from their doorsteps. It is not just the noise of the drill that is annoying (we’ve more or less become used to that), it’s the lack of joint planning and coordination between various public services which results in a 200-meter-long road being excavated six times in one year.

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