Monday, October 05, 2009

The everyday Latvian Charlie Foxtrots* continue

Often it is not the high (low??) black comedy of Latvian politics that reminds one of how disfunctional some things are, but rather everyday occurences. Take, for example, two cases-- the bizarre waste of European Union funds in Carnikava, where my family has a summer cottage. Officially, there is a project funded by the EU Cohesion Fund to extent municipal water and sewerage to parts of the town, including some of the so-called summer cottage districts (land that was divided up for this purpose during the Soviet era and given, mainly, to people associated with the state hydrological and reclamation institutions, that is, engineers and technical staff who know something about water and sewerage systems).
As I noted in an earlier post (with video), "work" has been going on at a road crossing for several months, digging and refilling the same trench, moving and reburying pipes and culverts, keeping some kind of ancient-looking pumping machinery on site and basically totally or partly blocking access to whole communities. According to some of my summer neighbors, who know what they are talking about, the problem seems to be that whoever is doing the job cannot get one major sewer/water connection across a main road done right. Instead, the construction crew is conducting an endless series of experiments. This is not the Channel Tunnel, for f**k's sake! We are now getting close to the season when frosts and freezes are likely to ice up the water-filled trench and the mud-field surrounding it. What then? Where is the EU investigator demanding that these fuckwits explain the massive waste of funds (at least on a project level)?
Another daily WTF? is the pedestrian tunnel that has been dug, equipped and simply left empty, boarded up and fenced off at one of the busiest and nastiest crossings in Riga, between the Central Station and the Stockman/Forum Cinemas complex. There are pedestrian lights which seem to function in some random relationship to other traffic lights, leaving huge trolley-busses, busses and other traffic blocking the crosswalk or simply driving through the flow of pedestrians (this is Latvia, lights are merely suggestive). Partly to blame, apparently, is Finnish Stockmann, which promised to build a pedestrian tunnel at the same time as it built the department store and cinema multiplex, but one suspects that things may have been delayed for years because in this kind of public-private partnership, the "public" side had its hand out and the private side was expected to put something there before anything moved along.
Anyway, crossing to the department store and cinemas was a mess before any construction began, it was a worse mess while construction went on, and now little has changed while, for several weeks, there has been a finished tunnel (the workers are gone) boarded up on the Central Station side and fenced off on the Stockmann side. WTF??
There are reports in the media that the tunnel may actually open to pedestrians in the next couple of weeks, the reason for the delay being, again, as so often in Latvia, that some process has to unfuck itself over an agonizingly long time before anything happens. In this case, it is the formalities connected to delivering title to the tunnel from the builders (financed by Stockmann) to the municipality of Riga. Meanwhile, welcome to the Third World...?

*oh yes, the title contains a nice name for clusterfuck.

1 comment:

Mr.Key said...

I would like to oppose the author about red traffic lights - in Latvia these are highly respected, though it seems that people finally got confidence and sometimes ignore the red light on absolutely empty intersections in quiet places, still risking with their drivers license - the road police is not tolerant to this, even it is a red light in the middle of night in the middle of nowhere.

Yes, EU funds are f**ed. Aren't they f**ed everywhere? I once heard a report that a reasonable part of EU funds are spent in a useless way.

Yes, the tunnel is not handed over to the municipality - is this a reason to make shit over Latvia? Could the author approve that in other countries all things go smoothly 100.00% of time?