By Dimitris Bekiaris
As early as last summer, we presented to our readers and other internet users a series of revealing reports on the “hot” topic of Attiki Odos. Undoubtedly, this is an issue that goes beyond the narrow confines of the business market and the competition between contractors and business groups, having social dimensions and implications.
Our motto was, is and will always be the following: “ Give Attiki Odos back to the people!”
At the current juncture, with a new economic recession firmly grasping our country and people in the post-pandemic era, and while the Greek people still struggle to recover from the disastrous “memorandum era”, it is nothing short of outrageous for a social good – Attiki Odos is indeed a social good- to be in the hands of the “National Contractor”, who exploits it without even keeping up appearances, in order to deal with his own financial problems and save his personal well-being, when, at the same time, his group is collapsing, as all the financial evidence points out.
Last summer, the “National Contractor” had attempted to increase the toll prices of Attiki Odos, in a provocative and aggravating for the citizens manner. The “National Contractor’s” objective was nothing more than to eventually cater for his own needs to the detriment of the Greek people, having no regard for the reactions or the rules of the market, totally dismissing the fact that toll prices did not even rise during the memorandum era. The “National Contractor”, cornered by lenders – mainly from shareholder and bank loans- implemented last summer his plan to bring liquidity to his group earlier, adding extra burdens on our fellow citizens who use the Attiki Odos.
The “National Contractor” acts in a monopolistic and gluttonous way that certainly does not suit an advanced western country and this attitude can be observed not only in Attiki Odos but also in every other tender and project he is involved in. The permanent and only victim of this situation, which has been established in Greece for decades, is no other than the Greek people themselves.
Lately, though, that seems to be changing. Attiki Odos has been put under close scrutiny by the Greek government and the Minister of Infrastructure and Transport, Kostas Karamanlis.
Not long ago, the site Periodista.gr revealed that the reckless waste of money by the “National Contractor” would soon be put under scrutiny by the Ministry of Transport (Read more on that HERE). Eventually, the said report was justified and obviously confirmed.
The Ministry of Transport will conduct an inspection on the supervision and maintenance of the project and their enormous cost, on all the additional or extraordinary activities carried out by Attiki Odos and which were not reimbursed by the state, on the data concerning the contractual clauses regarding the tax-free reserves, on the rational application of the depreciation method of the total cost of the investment, on the data concerning the systems related to the regulation and control of traffic and toll collection and on the validity of the contract governing the return on equity.
The recruitment of the financial advisor will be done through direct negotiations with three companies of engineering consultants and the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure will mainly investigate the financial data regarding the expiration time of the contract for the concession and return of the project to the state, as well as technical and economic parameters regarding the provision of obligations on the part of the concessionaire.
Having been dealing with the issue of Attiki Odos for a long time, we can only welcome the recent initiatives of the Minister of Transport, Kostas Karamanlis. Of course, it remains to be seen how the story will unfold and we are mainly monitoring the way in which the “National Contractor” moves on all fronts, in the foreground and, especially, in the background.
He will not remain idle, that’s for certain, but we learn that this time the government is determined not to do him any favors, no matter how much pressure is being put by the media related in one way or another to the “National Contractor”.
Until Attiki Odos returns to the people, our job continues.