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Cronicile

March 15, 15:00, for 15 minutes: Romania really wants highways!

de Victor Bratu , 17.3.2019

Narcis Neaga, the consistency of governments that promise highways, but do not build them

Dozens of companies, mayoralties, sports teams, public figures, organizations and many ordinary people joined the protest “Romania wants motorways”. Of course, the country did not paralyze for 15 minutes, but the unexpected diversity of protests shows that the lack of road infrastructure is no longer something that Romanians accept as a given.

Reality shows that governments leading Romania have either expressed the desire to build or attempted to push forward road infrastructure projects for reasons other than related to economic and development elements.

On Friday, March 15, at 15:05, on Focsani belt, the circulation froze. Only a police car was going around on the free lane

More recently, highways started to be promoted by the Government as public-private partnership projects, although the European Commission is pushing Romania to spend the free money received for highways.

Friday, 15.00, a “coffee break for highways” was held at the headquarters of the European Commission Representation in Bucharest, and a short message was posted on Facebook – with the suggestive title #șîEU wants motorways in Romania!:

During 2014-2020, EUR 6.3 billion was made available to Romania for infrastructure projects. However, projects underway are from the 2007-2013 financial period, as they have not been timely completed.

Infrastructure’s resume in Romania:

  • “90% of national roads have a single lane for each direction”
  • “in 2016 RO recorded 97 deaths per one million inhabitants in road accidents.”
  • “37% of victims are pedestrians, compared to the European average of 21%”

Carmen Uscatu and Oana Gheorghiu, founders of ” Dăruieşte Viaţă” Association, which is building a hospital in Bucharest, came to the Finance Ministry. Their protest was generated by the lack of interest in ANAF’s approach of the NGO Registry.

Eugen Teodorovici and C. P. Tariceanu “get on people’s side” after both of them were in power for the past 7 years

Minister Eugen Teodorovici went out to the ministry and talked to the protesters in front of the institution – an action in line with the message sent during the day announcing that he is also dissatisfied with the construction rhythm of highways in Romania and he joins the protest.

Similar allegations were expressed by ALDE leader, Calin Popescu Tariceanu, himself in power in 2012, through the USL alliance with PSD.

Liviu Dragnea expressed though opposite opinions. During a trip in Dimbovita, at the elections in the local party branch, PSD leader said: “Some wide boys yell that they made a meter of a highway, today when construction works start on Moldova Motorway. They do circus, we make highways. They yell while we are developing Romania. That businessman who, as I understood, spent 100,000 euros for this circus. If he had all this money, he could donate them.”

The theory was also supported by Transport Minister Razvan Cuc. He said: “Moldova Motorway has just started; we do not have time to stay. We will be present; we have builders present to make motorways.

PSD announced on Facebook that works on Moldova Motorway starts on Friday, and Transport Minister Razvan Cuc will be present at the construction site inauguration. In fact, works on Bacau belt began 6 days ago.

Protesters, protests, delays and bottlenecks – short history

Stefan Mandachi, the businessman who built the “first meter of a highway” in Moldova, was the “spark” that triggered Friday’s protests across the country.

For Moldova Highway, organizations such as “Together for A8” and “Moldova wants a highway” have been long campaigning, associations that have organized numerous campaigns in favour of starting a road infrastructure project to connect Moldova to Transylvania.

A8 Iasi-Tirgu Mures Highway was a promise many years ago by many governments but never started. It was introduced into the Master plan in 2016, after heavy pressures from the civil society and even from the European Commission.

The two organizations in Moldova managed last year to transform the highway project into a law, approved in Parliament in December 2018 and quickly promulgated by President Iohannis.

A law that is already violated – as deputy Catalin Drula remarked.

The lack of highways in Romania has more profound effects than the discomfort caused by lost hours spent for driving. Lack of infrastructure brings underdevelopment, poverty. And it is one of the reasons for the labour force exodus.

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