Wrong priorities

The tragedy in the Vale of Tempe not only has repercussions but causes as well. Indeed, what is more important for this country? Is it the undertaking of the 2004 Olympics or the completion of our road network, whose condition is far worse than the EU average and one of the main reasons for Greece’s high toll in traffic accidents? The tragic deaths of the 21 teenagers raises the question over the criteria according to which our political elite has been administering Greece’s present and future during previous decades. The older ones among us had associated this government with such notions as infrastructure, reconstruction and growth. It was a government that aimed to increase our national wealth and the prosperity of the population. Its main drawback was that it had no immediate result; it provided no short-term partisan benefit. When PASOK came to power in 1981, its first task was to freeze all main projects (widening of national highways, construction of the new airport, the metro) and channel the funds into small, but more politically rewarding, projects instead. Most EU funds were squandered in the same manner. Hence, from Constantine Karamanlis’s vision to rid Greece of its inferior image, Greece passed to absolute pretension. We are selling our carpets to afford a chambermaid. Similarly, we pay 4.5 billion euros for urgent one-off Olympic-related projects while a 774-kilometer-long national road has been under construction since 1988 at a rate of 34 kilometers per year. As for the 12-kilometer stretch at the Vale of Tempe where the terrible accident occurred, works have been held up for 15 years because of procedural snags and fights among contractors. It’s a real pity. If this was about an Olympic venue, like a tae kwon do venue for example, a mere warning by our national supervisor Denis Oswald would be enough to have it completed in record time.