Opposition with hard facts

Opposition with hard facts

Greece was not “cut in two” by the closure of a section of the national highway between Athens and Corinth because of a fire on a truck, as the pro-SYRIZA website Left.gr argued. The area of Kakia Skala is simply not the center of Greece – unless, of course, you listen to a few Peloponnesians who believe Greece to be the Morea and the “new countries” above it.

Now, an accident or even a sprinkling of snow on the old national highway could indeed cut the country in two back in the day when there were no alternative routes linking north to south on continental Greece. Thanks to the Ionia Odos Highway (plus Egnatia in the north), however, Greece is only cut in two if both the old and newer highways are shut down at the same time for some reason. Sure, the events on the national highway on Thursday were anything but pleasant for the thousands of motorists stuck in their cars for hours. But when a truck carrying 7.5 tons of liquified gas catches fire, the very first thing the authorities must do is protect the people who happen to be in the vicinity.

They need to prevent the worst from happening, to prevent the loss of life, injury and material damage. Once the situation is brought under control, then we can assess what was done right and what was done wrong.

The result, in this case, showed us that the response was correct; the hassle suffered by the motorists was the unpleasant byproduct of a successful operation.

The opposition has every right and even an obligation to exercise harsh criticism against the government; its role is not to whine about the “poor trapped drivers.” It should, instead, be asking questions like why was the truck in such a poor state of repair? And why was it carrying dangerous cargo on the national road? Does anyone check that basic standards are being met by the country’s truck fleet? Or do they expect the driver to take the blame when something goes wrong?

Such questions ought to be plenty for the opposition to sink its teeth into – when it’s not wasting its energies on less intellectual pursuits like moaning about hassled motorists. Sure, they can say a few words of support, but they also need to explain that dangerous situations can be a hassle if you want to avoid real pain. And then, after studying the hard facts, they can slam the government as much as they want for any oversights in monitoring what kind of vehicles are circulating on our roads. Want to bet that they’ll find lots of them too?

The role of opposition can be serious and hard, or it can be farcical and easy. The opposition doesn’t even need to have any serious proposals – a typical accusation from governing parties – because the truth is that a party that is not in government simply doesn’t have the clout of one that is. What it does need to do, though, is to bring more to the table than echoing some vague sentiment.

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