OPINION

A lax system with no backup plan

The period between 1981 and 1990 was a happy one for Greeks – but for the wrong reasons. Instead of praising God for Greece’s entry into what was then the European Economic Community – thanks to the strenuous efforts and smart political maneuvers of Constantine Karamanlis – we celebrated the arrival of the first tranche of European funding. However, this generous donation was not transformed into much-needed infrastructure. Unfortunately this cash was squandered in the name of a Keynesian policy which foresees the launch of projects merely to exploit ready money and to give workers something to do. Meanwhile Greece was exercising a «nationally independent policy.» The prime minister visited his Polish counterpart Wojciech Jaruzelski, who was regarded as a dictator by the imperialist powers and various European states whose decisions were being influenced by the whims of multinational firms. Certain individuals who dared to suggest the obvious and remark that «national pride is all very well but shouldn’t we build a national highway?» were condemned as «right-wing parrots.» And so a decade went by with no new infrastructure project being launched. Meanwhile all works that had been planned were regarded as the legacy of the «dark years» and abandoned. During his eight-year term, Costas Simitis attempted to curb the country’s deficit in road junctions. Projects to construct the Egnatia Highway and the national road linking Patras and Thessaloniki via Athens were accelerated but progress was obstructed by bad planning and corruption. To be fair, these developments were not such a surprise as the country had no prior experience of a major state investment program. Unfortunately, the necessary insight for this is only gained through clashes and mistakes. The Patras road project managed to progress although work on some sections was delayed due to some political or financial sticking point or other. And so we have reached 2006 and the country’s vital transport connections are severed after a spate of heavy rain. The country’s entire social and economic activity is dependant on just one national road. This is why it takes just a day of heavy rain or a landslide to cause unjustifiable chaos, and this is because the system is operating deficiently without a backup plan.