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Street lighting in Athens is gradually going out

14 April 2013 / 15:04:42  GRReporter
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The fact that even the "heart" of the city - Syntagma Square - is dark is indicative of the actual state of things. Parks are partly illuminated, and some of them, like Strefi Hill, have no lighting at all. Even at municipal playgrounds, there are either no lights, or they go out early.

During the last month, Syntagma Square went dark because of a failure of the transformer that provides electric power there. Athens Electric Department carries power from another site, but voltage is often low, since the square’s needs are great. As a result, darkness reigns over the central square of the capital city, except for the illuminated parliament building.

In the evenings, many municipalities turn into … dark communities and, as a result, criminal activities are increasing, and, as a consequence of this, the feeling of insecurity among citizens also rises. Authorities that are responsible for the lighting of streets of neighbourhoods are municipalities which claim that the lack of power supply is yet another consequence of the crisis. They have explained that darkness in the streets is mainly due to network failures, which, because of lack of money, are repaired with a delay.

Mayors also claim that changes in local government budgets are the main reason for delays in addressing problems. "If there is a failure in the network, in order to supply the necessary materials for the repair, the service must have the appropriate amount," said the Mayor of Halandri George Kourasis to Ethnos newspaper. He admitted that at places where there is no light, this was due to economic problems of the service.

Municipalities can resort to the supply of materials for repairs according to emerging needs only if they have the necessary funds. Otherwise, if they undertake these expenses without having the necessary revenues, they will violate the rules of the Organisation of local government. A typical example is Syntagma Square. Deputy Mayor Nana Spiropoulou emphasised for Ethnos newspaper that the transformer is worth 15,000 euro. "Some time ago, we would borrow a transformer, while repairing the failure and it would cost us another 15,000 euro. But now we have to follow the procedure and therefore lighting in the square is problematic," said Mrs Spiropoulou, adding that, in the immediate future, the transformer is expected to be replaced.

The Union of Municipalities of Greece characterised the price for maintenance of street lighting as impossible. With a unanimous decision, the Union wants to set up a committee for the monitoring of road safety in all municipalities. Mayors have informed the standing committee in Parliament that municipalities cannot cover the cost of maintenance of street lighting. They also noted that, recently, there has been reduced lighting of the streets, a fact that raises the risk of accidents and the reason is that municipalities were transferred the respective obligations without them having been provided with the necessary resources. The Union informed the Commission about the Supreme Administrative Court’s decision, which acquitted the Mayor of Heraklion of the cost of lighting in the area.

Despite the economic downturn, many municipalities are providing new lighting in the streets, which is energy efficient. The Municipality of Iliou is also among them. The city, according to Mayor Nikos Zenetos, has 9,700 lights in the streets, which are being replaced with LED lights. The municipality spends 700,000 euro per year on lighting and when all the lights are replaced, the cost will fall to 100,000 euro.

Tags: street lighting repairs Athens Syntagma Square
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