For developments regarding its construction subway in Exarchia, the Deputy Minister of Infrastructure and Transport spoke on the ERT show “Syndeses” (H. Vidou, K. Papachliminzos), Nikos Tahiaos.
As he stated referring to the issue of cutting down trees: “I am disturbed by the whole story as it develops to end up with this argument. Because I think we’re going full circle, that is, we’ve made a turn, let it not be 180 degrees, it’s 160 degrees. But in any case I think we are living a shadow battle. So, let’s start things from the beginning. Know that when the work of line 4 began with Mr Bakoyannis we became “billies” to say it in simple Greek, because, I think in ERT I had gone out to ERT3 and the advisor for the environment at the time had called line 4 tree killing. So he started a conversation with Mr. Bakoyannis about the fate of the trees. And what did we say? We said that a metro cannot be built without cutting down trees, because construction sites must be built. There an underground building is being built, the underground building to be built not only needs to be a trench, a trench that someone must be able to access to the lower layers to do underground drilling afterwards, but also the construction sites need to be there .
Consequently, there will be cutting of trees willy-nilly. The agreement we made with Mr. Bakoyannis and this was the original thought of Attiko Metro. It was to transplant as many trees as possible to transplant, as many as could survive. This is not something that is judged by the “Greek Metro”, it is something that is judged by the Municipality of Athens. It has the corresponding directorate of horticulture and in compensation for the inconvenience that will be caused by the cutting of trees for as many years as the metro is being built in Athens, money should be given to the Municipality of Athens, so that it can do a compensatory project by planting more trees. Originally the plan was for 2000 trees, which will now be planted to cover this period when these trees are stripped and most are transplanted elsewhere. And from what I read yesterday, after all, this concerns 2,950 trees that the Municipality supplies through the company Anaplasi SA and is going to plant in Athens”.
Regarding the completion of the works of line 4, he stated that it will be finished: “Theoretically in 7 years” and about the greenery that will exist in Exarchion square: “It will have greenery, which will be indicated by the architectural study that will be done as a result of architectural competition held by Municipality of Athens. I think that the current mayor will now be the campaign manager. It is up to Mr. Doukas to indicate that the green will enter Rizari.”
Continuing, he said: “In Rizari, there is another audience, whether it is the audience of Vassili Sofia, or the audience of Exarchia, the metro is a pro-popular project. So the political message is that the subway will happen as planned. Evangelism station, Rizari station will also be built. Do not be in any doubt that if it emerges from the expected decision from the imminent decision of the Council of State that there are some changes that need to be made in some individual issues of environmental treatment, this will be done by “Hellenic Metro” in a way that it has an obligation to do so. he is doing in obedience to Justice, but from then on the station will be as planned and I will remind you that it was not planned by the current government. The Metro project was planned and tendered by the SYRIZA government in the previous year, in 2018 and thanks to the efforts of the previous government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the project was saved and today there is a project which in a few years will deliver an environmentally friendly means to its people of Athens”.
Referring to recent statements of the newly elected Mayor of Athens Harry Doukas, not to cut the trees, Mr. Tachiaos stated: “Look, Mr. Doukas is the new mayor of Athens and the government has no reason to open a front with Mr. Doukas. Regardless of which party supported him, I think he also wants to maintain his autonomy and I think he can respect the other. The topics are as follows. I think that Mr. Doukas is not the only one, from what I can see he is still, if you like, in the momentum that the election trajectory has created for him. Still moving at this rate. I had followed very carefully his debate with Mr. Bakoyannis and had commented on it at the time on social media. I consider that the answers he had given then about the Exarchia are a prelude to this position, which he has now taken, which in practice does not have trees as its object. In practice, what Mr. Doukas has in mind is to caress those political clients, if you will, who led him to the mayor’s office of the Municipality of Athens, who do not want the station in Exarchia. Because now let’s not kid ourselves. That’s why I tell you that I was united with what I heard from the municipal councilor. The banner that came out in Exarchia in the middle of the issue, now that there were reactions, was to stay in Exarchia neighborhood. Not on the subway.”
Regarding the proposals made so far to build the metro in Tositsa instead of Exarchia, Mr. Tachiaos commented that: “Mr. Belavilas is an executive of SYRIZA and the project was auctioned in this form, with this engraving on SYRIZA. Let’s clear something up. If you want to change an auctioned project with good morning, that is, if he auctions it and you say it’s okay, I’ll change it, then I’ll change the study. A project that has a cost of about a billion and a half means that you are going to immediately unlock the cost of the project for the benefit of whom? The contractor’s manufacturer, because you are automatically playing his game. Well, I think there is no prudent administration unless it has other purposes which would do so. And I cannot believe that SYRIZA had such a thing in mind. Things just changed, there was an opposition and he started saying other things, but beyond what he was saying. I think we have to understand, you know I come from Thessaloniki and Thessaloniki even today is suffering and suffering mainly in terms of self-confidence and city psychology, from the metro that is not finished and will finish its time and it is an opportunity on television to say that it will finish the project.
And you know, it is a personal bet, because I have been a municipal councilor since the time of Kuvela, so I have followed the project from the very beginning. We have said in the second half of 2024 and I think the prime minister was very clear on that. But to say a little about my previous thought, we must make the following clear: That there is no need for the mistakes we made in Thessaloniki with the Thessaloniki metro to be seen in Athens as well. Athens is much more mature. They too have experienced the adventure of the subway when it was being built, but they have also experienced the benefits of the subway. I think that the great majority of the world cannot watch litigation which does not touch them. He knows what he wants, he wants a friendly medium. Cars must be taken off the roads. This is what line 4 will offer them.”
Finally, as to when her work will be completed Egnatia Street, Mr. Tachias stated that: “The issue arose as follows. I spoke in Parliament about a section of a road which is a vertical axis of the axis of Egnatia, essentially the road that leads from North Macedonia to the area of Thessaloniki. And what I said is that it is the concession holder’s obligation to intervene on this road, to build a second branch, mainly in response to road safety issues.
Because it is very valuable for the State not to invest money for something that will have to do with concessionaires, that is, not to invest money for something that is an obligation of a third party, a private person. What I said is that we are in constant discussion with TAIPED on how to speed up the Egnatia concession procedures. The last letter that came to me from the managing director of TAIPED is that by the end of the year they estimate that the EGNATIAS ODOU S.A. contract will be signed. and we will facilitate this process and that in the first quarter of next year the concession can be made.”