Shaky foundations

Shaky foundations

Crisis management is our great curse. We have seen it before, we saw it again in the fires last summer, we’ve watched it these last couple of with the snow fiasco. When a crisis breaks out, of any kind, decades of accumulated shortcomings come back to haunt us and crush us. They crush the Greek state in a few minutes.

If one looks closely, one will see that some people in key positions did not do their job properly. One link in the chain breaks, at the worst possible moment. In the coastal resort of Mati, it was the one who mistakenly diverted the cars and the one who sent all the firefighting means elsewhere.

On Monday, someone working at Attiki Odos – the company that manages the highway that forms the outer beltways of the Greater Athens metropolitan area – saw on the main monitor that something was wrong but did not make the decision to close the road. And then the system collapsed. The traffic police did not have snow chains for their cars, Attiki Odos did not know how to react, the army did not know what to do because of course it is not used to missions that are not planned and organized. Anything that could go wrong, went wrong. It is certainly important that there were no casualties.

Is there political responsibility for all this? Yes, obviously, and society weighs it and attributes it accordingly. But to be serious, political responsibility must be about one main thing: the age-old inability of our politicians to rebuild from scratch a state that can withstand emergencies and not melt down in the first crisis. What does this mean? No cronyism, absolute meritocracy in hirings for the services that are important, continuous training and retraining, continuous joint exercises of public and private bodies, clear management rules and clear responsibilities.

We have to get to the point where from the person in charge in the prime minister’s office, to the regional governor, to the policeman in the operations center, everyone, will know what to do and when, when the need arises. Until then, we will simply be looking for someone to blame. Even if Superman took over our crisis management, he would not be able to do much if he had to rely on shaky foundations.

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