OPINION

Unneeded projects

Let’s assume, for a moment, that we close our eyes – and, more importantly, that we hold our noses – so as to escape the sight of the piles of rubbish that have nearly buried the capital, a sight that highlights the strength of the rule of law in a country set to stage next year’s Olympic Games. Let’s assume that we do not care about the regular visits paid by IOC officials who, escorted by all sorts of business groups, put an unbearable burden on the state coffers, demanding extra and costly services, usually in areas that interest their faceless sponsors. Let’s assume that we have abandoned hope in the government’s early pledges that it would drift away from the vulgar commodification of the Games and instead revive the ancient Greek concept of moderation, while, in fact, all we see is an unbelievable waste of taxpayers’ money. The last line of the government’s defense is that «the Olympic projects will remain.» But what projects is the administration talking about? Are they the plethora of high-cost venues that were built to host sports that are not popular in this country and which will, in effect, be rendered useless when the Games are over? How are these venues to be maintained? Most likely, they will be swallowing millions of euros as they fall into ruin. Or is the government, perhaps, referring to the means of transport that have been heavily advertised in order to bamboozle the public? These are, in truth, constructed in such a way as to support the sports venues rather than the long-term needs of the people. The design of the tramline, for example, does not pay heed to the needs of the people living in congested areas of the capital but rather aims to serve the Hellenikon and Neo Faliron Olympic venues. Moreover, the planning has destroyed the few remaining accessible coastal routes within the limits of the Greek capital. What sort of a metro line extension is this, when there are no plans for new stations, barring one that will – by pure coincidence – add to the fortunes of our «national contractor»? What sort of suburban railway is it when, a few months ahead of the Games, we still do not know how much of it will be ready, whether and to what degree it will be connected with the metro, nor what type of wagons will be used in its construction. All this – and much more – is not the sign of any serious planning for infrastructure. It is an indication that no scientific approach was adopted in addressing the enormous problems that plague Athens today. Their repercussions will haunt us in the decades to come, while they involve the huge squandering of public wealth driven by a policy of subjecting everything to the needs of a two-week event next summer.