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Siemens turned off the traffic lights in Athens

12 November 2010 / 18:11:29  GRReporter
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35 traffic lights at key crossroads in the capital stood still in Thursday night and there is no hope for them to light up again soon. Endless columns of cars, horns and aliases are rife along the roads of Athens a day before the runoff election for mayors and regional governors. The hot blood of the Mediterranean drivers boiled after it became clear that 1400 traffic lights out of the total 2000 in the capital have been entrusted to Siemens to maintain them. And the company has not particularly good reputation in Greece after it was found out that its managers paid large sums to Greek politicians.

The agreement for the maintenance of the traffic lights in the capital expired in June 2010. Since then 1400 traffic lights are ownerless and public authorities obviously were hoping not to get broken because there's nobody to repair them. But the players’ luck cheats them as always at one point and the roads turned into hell for drivers just a day before Athens goes back to the ballot boxes. Besides the traffic jams due to the lack of traffic lights Friday proved to be the most rainy day this autumn, which further contributed to the traffic chaos in the capital.

According to the latest information, the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure has taken up to organize two new tenders for the traffic lights maintenance for a much more modest amount. One of the contracts is for 560,000 euros and the other is for 137,000 euros. One of the old contracts for the maintenance of the road light signalization, which expired about three months ago, was for six million euros and the other two were for one million euros.

"Traffic lights maintenance was carried out with used parts from other old traffic lights for a long time, but we have already reached the limit," told Radio 9 the Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Dimitris Repas. He said that the contract with Siemens was not signed which delayed some procedures and led to certain problems.

GRReprter contacted the Chief Secretary to the Ministry of Transport Yannis Ikonomidis, who proved to have an important meeting but spared a minute to promise: "All the damage in the capital will be eliminated over the weekend." As for the current tenders he said that the signing of new maintenance contracts have been delayed due to political reasons. This statement implies that the maintenance contract would not be signed before the outcome of the parliamentary committee investigating the Siemens case is clear.

When asked if it would be possible to find another company to replace Siemens, Yannis Ikonomidis explained that the state is in cooperation with two companies responsible for the maintenance of traffic lights - they have installed the system and they can only offer repair services for their systems. The Chief Secretary to the Ministry of Transport explained in an earlier interview with Radio Vima that the final solution of the Siemens case will come within a month.

GRRepotrter went in the late hours of the day to one of the problematic crossroads on Vassilis Sofiyas Boulevard and Papadiamandopulo Street. There we found operating traffic lights, traffic controller and constant flows of cars. I spoke to the newspapers and cigarettes seller at the very crossroad and she told me that the traffic controller appeared only a few hours ago. "Traffic lights started working in the morning, but traffic is so heavy that a traffic controller is still needed," she explained. The saleswoman told that the damage on Vassilis Sofiyas Boulevard occurred in the middle of the week but they came to fix it on Friday. "It was really crazy here these days," she said succinctly.

Tags: SocietyTrafficTraffic lightsSiemens
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