OPINION

Premeditated crime

It wasn’t just the Kifissos River: Public indignation also burst its banks after the latest floods. For a third time in less than two months – most strikingly, summer months – the 2004 Olympics capital was engulfed in water following a heavy summer storm. It has been proved, thereby, that the crime along the banks of the Kifissos is not only a premeditated but also an ongoing one. The belated admittance by the government to be implementing the project in a technically improper manner, constructing it in reverse order (the study of the work on the estuary was delayed and so, in order not to lose the EU subsidy, the ministry decided to do the job back to front), is not enough. First, it is shocking that officials admit that they are consciously putting people’s lives in jeopardy so as to avoid the criticism of not having met the EU’s time frame. Even more shocking is the stance of the government which has stated that there is nothing it can do and that residents of those districts will have to put up with the floods until 2004 when the project will have been completed. The apex of the drama, itself a sign of political decay, is that in the wake of the recent catastrophes not a single minister has had the sensitiveness to quit, shouldering the political responsibility for a crime committed against citizens’ properties and lives. It’s as if the government was an innocent bystander and not a protagonist in the drama, as if it were elected not to rule and decide our fates but merely to comment on developments. Also irritating are the attempts to cover up the responsibilities of the contractors – the actual perpetrators of the crime. The Technical Chamber of Greece (TEE) chairman was right yesterday to castigate «basic technical problems, which are known to first-year technical university students» and «projects which are carried out in an unorthodox and, therefore, dangerous manner.» However, he said nothing of the contractors who have undertaken the project. Are these professional contractors unaware of these dangerous technical problems which are known to first-year university students? Of course not. Why veil their heavy responsibility, then? Why should they escape punishment? This cancer of entanglement between politicians and contractors within the Public Works Ministry must be removed before it has a fatal effect on all of society.