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Society

Greek Highway Operator Will Pay Stranded Motorists 7 Million Euros

ATHENS – The cost of letting vehicles onto the Attiki Odos Ring Road surrounding the Greek capital during a snow storm – which saw some 3,500 motorists stuck for hours or overnight in freezing temperatures – will be a 2,000-euro ($2266) payment to each of them.

That comes to about 7 million euros ($7.79 million) and was demanded by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mistotakis although it wasn’t said if that was intended to ward off potential lawsuits.

The CEO of the company resigned after blistering criticism over mismanagement over response to the storm that was predicted days in advance and yet still paralyzed the city’s roads for several days.

The government asked the managing company of the road connecting Athens to the international airport to work up a detailed compensation plan by Jan. 29, but the operators said they could so far identify only 600 vehicles affected.

Vehicle identification allegedly stopped after toll collection was terminated as the storm worsened on Jan. 24 nd no CCTV footage is available, the company said, no report how people would apply or be eligible for payment.

The company said anyone accepting the money would have to agree not to sue or make any future claims, to which the Transport Ministry has objected, said the newspaper Kathimerini.

There was fallout for the New Democracy government too as the major opposition SYRIZA filed a censure motion in Parliament that the Conservatives rejected as opportunistic political grandstanding.

Mitsotakis had to apologize for the debacle and that opened the door for SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras to pounce and wonder where the Premier was during the storm and aftermath, largely absent.

Government officials not named said the censure motion was aimed at boosting SYRIZA’s lagging ratings in polls and as the Leftists are dealing with a resurgence in popularity of the marginal center-left Movement for Change (KINAL) under the new leadership of Member of the European Parliament Nikos Androulakis.

New Democracy has consistently been at least 10 points ahead of SYRIZA in polls and Tsipras, who was ousted in July, 2019 snap polls, keeps demanding snap elections, the idea dismissed by Mitsotakis.

After two days of debate Jan. 28-29, a vote on the censure motion will take place Jan. 30 that’s almost certain to be defeated because New Democracy has a majority 157 seats in the 300-member Parliament.

But the debate gives Tsipras an opportunity to take more swings at Mitsotakis who had been criticized as well for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic that worsened as he concentrated on an economic recovery for now.

Tsipras said New Democracy is “the worst government of the Metapolitefsi (the period following the restoration of democracy in 1974),” and is “out of touch with society.” Androulakis said KINEL will vote for censure, the paper said.

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