Garbage piles at road sides, potholes on main roads, broken traffic lights and pavements or no street lights at all are just some but very important problems on the island of Corfu, the Jewel of the Ionian Sea.
Exhausted by the miserable infrastructure, the negligence and indifference by the local authorities, a British expat invites Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to Corfu to see with his own eyes how one of the most favorite tourists’ destinations in Greece is being destroyed.
In an open letter to the Prime Minister, a letter submitted exclusively to our website keeptalkinggreece.com together with several pictures, Richard* notes that he will come up for all expenses for a 3-day Prime Ministerial visit and these included full accommodation and meals as well as touring the island.
Richard has been living on Corfu for the last 20 years.
An invitation to the Prime Minister of Greece….MR TSIPRAS
Dear Mr. Tsipras,
I am a resident of Corfu having invested my entire life savings in this country some 20 years ago.
I invite you to Corfu for three nights. I will provide you with first class private accommodation in an apartment which is part of my villa. You will have air conditioning, private swimming pool, private parking, fantastic views and three meals a day plus wine each evening. The cost to you will be zero, however there is one condition; you will be required to accompany me on the following outings either during the day and/or at night: –
- You will be the pillion passenger on my 150cc motor bike. (yes, I am fully licensed). We will do a journey into Corfu Town (about 10 kilometres away). The purpose of this journey will be to allow you to experience what I and thousands of other Corfiots experience each time we travel on roads on Corfu. I will attempt to avoid many of the potholes by weaving but I will also deliberately hit many of them so you can get an idea of what it feels like on a typical Corfu road. You will experience pain in many parts of your body and you will (I hope) realize the impact damage being incurred on my motor bike. I will make sure of this. I will take you into some of the worst areas within Corfu Town itself where we will have to get off my motorbike for fear of having a serious accident.
- You will again be the pillion passenger on my 150cc motor bike. This time the ride will be at night along a major and very busy road. The purpose of this will be for you to experience the danger and fear of approaching a very busy intersection which is normally controlled by Traffic Lights but these Traffic Lights have not been operating for many weeks and in some cases, months. On the road of my choice there are at least 3 intersections like this over a distance of about 10 kilometres. My bike does not have seat belts!! The purpose with this ride is to make very clear to you the extreme danger being inflicted on both motorist and pedestrians both residents and tourist.
- You will again be the pillion passenger on my 150cc motor bike. We will travel down the same busy road. This time it will be your job to take photographs of the people driving whilst on their cell phones. This will be combined with a challenge; you are to also photograph any police presence whilst we take a trip of about one and a half hours in and out of Corfu Town. For every Police officer you manage to photograph you will receive cash bonus of Euro 100. If you do not manage to photograph any police presents during the trip you will pay me Euro 100 in total. Fair??
- You will again be the pillion passenger on my 150cc motor bike. Just in case you have not noticed during the previous trips you will be taken on the same route and shown the huge piles of stinking, rat infested and fly ridden garbage which decorate the roadsides of the Corfiot roads. We will stop for a coffee in a café close to one of these piles so that you can savour the smell and see the flies. Just in case you have not got the message we will again go into Corfu Town and have a lunch; again, it will be right next to an enormous pile of stinking garbage. You will get to meet shop owners, normal Corfu residence and tourist. You will be given the opportunity to explain to these people why you and your Government have allowed this situation to arise in the first place and why you are doing nothing to sort it out. This problems has reoccurred year after year !!!
- You will again be the pillion passenger on my 150cc motor bike. This time we will take the same road in the Corfu Town however, during the trip we will stop at various place so that the state of the roadside pavements can be brought to your attention. Whilst in Corfu Town we will walk in various neighbourhoods where you will be shown the state of town pavements, garbage accumulation, the state of roads and the lack or non-existence of street lighting.
- And finally, as the evening settles in you will be invited for a pre-dinner drink at one venue and then dinner at a second. You will need to wear a mask for fear of being recognised. The intention of this generous “night out” is for you to become aware of the complete disregard of the “no Smoking rules” which is taking place and the complete absence of “policing” in this area.
- And finally, with your permission Mr. Prime Minister, you are invited to a public meeting to be held in the main square of Corfu Town, where you will be invited to speak to the people and tell them what you intend to do about all the aspects listed above. If you don’t mind Mr. Prime Minister, the entire Corfu Town Council must also be present and ready to answer questions.
Please be aware that the situation in all parts of this island are as bad if not worse. This is not just a Corfu Town problem !!
There are about 30 Government employees who used to be employed at the Corfu Airport. These people represent those that were NOT employed by the new operators when you sold the airport to Fraport. (By the way, the airport is now operating in a far more efficient manner). These 30 odd employees have for the past year, if not more, been sitting on stairs, in passages and unoccupied space, none of it public space, doing absolutely nothing and RECEIVING THEIR FULL SALARIES FROM THE GOVERNMENT. This amounts to hundreds of thousands of Euros each year. A disgraceful waste of taxpayer’s money which could better be utilized buying a second rubbish bailing machine which is so desperately needed on the island. EXPLAIN PLEASE !!!
Why is it Mr.Tsipras that should I or any other Corfiot resident, not pay my Income Tax you have the right to impose a fine, attach my assets or imprison me….whereas, when you as a Government, permit a “ state of affairs such as explained and photographed “ in this statement……there are ZERO repercussion for you or members of your Government ? Tell me Mr. Prime Minister, why should anybody pay taxes for something you do not provide….Basic Garbage removal and processing, upkeep and maintenance of roads and public pavements, maintenance of street and traffic lights !!! What compensation will you provided to the working people and business owners who have lost income and will continue to do so because you and your Government have failed to provide these fundamental services? What will you say to the parents of a child killed at one of the road intersection currently without operating Traffic Lights?
This island will soon die !!! And Greece will have lost a Jewel.
Major intersection – photo July – meanwhile sign removed
This is a major walking road between the Port and Town centre.
Should Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras show interest to accept the invitation, KTG will be glad to bring him in touch with Richard, who wishes to keep a bit of anonymity.
Note that most of the pictures were shot beginning of July.
A month later, the garbage problem has not be solved yet as everyone can check at locla media websites and tourists pictures on social media. The traffic lights get repaired and go nonoperational again short time after. No road pothole or pavement has been fixed, of course.
I am sorry to tell Richard that this is the way of Greece,especially now with having to find 3.5% surplus of GDP every year.The only thing residents can do is start to do things themselves,fix the lights,must be someone who knows how,fix the roads,must get together,expats very often do but Greeks dont.Put your rubbish outside of the town hall,they will soon move it.Come together as a community,there is no other way to improve our lot.
We too have invested our life savings in making a second home on Corfu, which we built 11 years ago, so we feel just the same as Richard – and I have sent several similar, but briefer e-mails to Mr. Tsipras, starting last year. However, ALL my e-mails have been totally ignored and I’ve not even had the courtesy of an acknowledgement. I sincerely hope that Richard has better luck, but that would be the triumph of hope over experience and I’m sorry to say that Michele Lavender is probably right and the only way is to roll our sleeves up and do what we can ourselves, although now there’s far too much rubbish for any community to tackle!
Aleksis is busy right now,he is on vacation with his beloved Pingeon somewhere.
But he is a good guy,im sure he listen and will fix all those little annoying things you metioned.
Enjoy he sun,smile and dont forget,youre in the place where democracy was born
Dear Richard, and all of the residents of Corfu (I get so ungry only reading and seeing the fotos, I knew though about the garbage problem). You should also invite together with Tsipras the Minister of Tourism and the Minister of Culture, put them all on your bike, without a helmet as most of us (Greeks) stupidedly do and take them to the “highlights” of Corfu. Unfortunately the situation is getting dangerous for the locals first. I hope my comments find you still healthy because I don’t want to see “black death” – plague emerging again since the middle ages. I am sorry. Don’t expect any answer from any officer, they are too arrogant and they forget how they came to office.
Well done Richard on your excellent letter, a true assessment of what is happening in Corfu. While we don’t live there we have been holidaying for many years and June this year was the very first time I have actually heard people say they may not go back again, purely because of the garbage. It’s disgusting and surely a health hazard. I’m not sure what local residents can do about it, is the problem not that there is nowhere for the rubbish to go? no landfill, no incinerator? what is clear is that something must to be done by Government before our beloved Corfu falls in to total disrepair and beyond saving! Here’s hoping, Yamas
If the residents of Corfu want a nice environment maybe they should organise themselves and do something about it. Not just complain to the central government. Solving local problems, such as refuse collection and street maintenance, is what the local government is for.
Besides, it’s the same almost all over Greece and has always been. It will not change until Greek people change their attitudes and start taking care of their own neighbourhoods.