Toll Wars on Greek Highways

Posted by in Economy, Society

The number of motorists refusing to pay toll fees at the Greek highways is growing day by day after the New Year’s hikes. Greek media reported that almost six out of ten vehicle owners  simply get out of their car and  lift the bars with their hands the moment they reach the toll gates and continue driving without paying a cent.

A friend of mine who drove from Thessaloniki to Athens over Christmas was telling me that it costs  45 euro in toll fees for the two ways drive. Much higher than using public transport if you add the expenses for gasoline, currently at € 1,60 per liter.

Citizens’ movement “I don’t pay” started already two and a half years ago when many motorists refused to pay tolls while driving from Corinth to Patras (Peloponnese) for the simple reason that the many parts ff the motorway  is not a highway! Toll fees are been paid in advance to the constructor’s consortium so they can build the highway sometime in the future…

NO TO TOLLS  I DON’T PAY

The same practice is beeing applied at the motorway between Larisa and Katerini (north Greece) where the motorway has not even a median strip to divide the two lanes.

In some areas, highways are ready but not the secondary ways with the effect that residents are obliged to use the highway even if they move within the municipality boundaries.

The toll fees hikes that came with the new year put the icing at the top of motorists’ anger.

 A one-way drive Athens-Thessaloniki costs 22,6 (21,80) euros, Corinth-Patras 3,10 (2,90). In 2010 the average toll fee price was at 0,03 /km.

Daily Kathimerini reported quoting sources from the Ministry of Infrastructure that the largest percentage of toll paying refusals has been recorded in the highway Athens – Thessaloniki: from  Maliakos to Kleidi at 15% and from Metamorfosi to Skarfeia at  6-7%. Very small-about 1% – are the figures of refusals in Peloponnese Eleusis – Patras and Corinth – Megalopolis. 
 

Toll Free Sunday

Citizens’ movements, NGO and local authorities in many areas have declared January 9, 2011 as a Toll Free Sunday.  They are going to gather at toll gates and open the bars after 3 p.m. so every motorist can pass through without paying.

Fines for Toll Fee Rebels

Under pressure by the constructors, Greek government is now considering to punish the toll-fees rebels with the fines value 20 times the toll fee.  The government aims to ensure in any way that  the funding of the highways will continue.

Some genious in the government even proposed to add the toll-fees on the price of gasoline (!!!) but this original idea was rejected by some cool-headed guys as it would be imposed to all drivers regardless of using the highway or not.

Daily Kathimerini reported that the Authority for Personal Data Protection has agreed to allow highway constructors to take pictures of the rebel drivers incl. car’s plate number and use them in order to identify those not paying the fees. Private consortiums operate in the five major roads of Greece. 

 Toll gates have started to grow like mushrooms since last summer.
 
According to state television NET the toll hikes came after the highway-consortium started to delay paying back their loans to banks. Loans that were taken in order to build the highways or finish them.

Of course, the Greek citizen is always the idiot who has to come up for every deal or malpractice by government.

The Egnatia highway case

The long in kilometres and winding in completion Egnatia highway that needed more than 10 years to be completed extends from the Greek-Turkish border in the east to Igoumenitsa port in the west.

The total cost of the 670 km (416 miles) long project is estimated to be about 5,9 billion euros at its completion in 2009, making it Greece’s most ambitious and expensive public project ever.

During the discussions about Egnatia’s tolls weird, if not scandaluous, estimation figures about the yearly maintenance costs came out and thus by the management of the company themselves.

In a letter from August 2010 to XanthiPress,  A. Mouratidis, President of Egnatia Odos S.A., considers the maintenance costs at 40 million euros plus 60 million euros for the company costs (wages, general expenses) yearly.

In December 2010, I. Tsaklidis, Vice President of Egnatia Odos, explains to daily Kathimerini  that the maintenance costs of Egnatia Highway are 60 million euros per year.

What’s the problem with 20 million euros more or less? It’s the stupid average Greek who pays them…