To read the first part of the dedication press HERE
The road construction projects, during the Dictatorship era, are carried out under a guise of statism which is presented as state care for the regional populations. In fact, they function as a vehicle for selective relations with small and medium-sized private initiative bodies, but also with large technical companies, as we will soon see, while the role of MOMAs is decisive. By transferring public discourse to the supposedly neutral political terrain of technology, the depoliticization necessary to preserve popular footholds from the dictatorship of the colonels is accomplished.
The role of the seven MOMAs – headquartered in Athens, Thessaloniki, Heraklion, Crete, Patras, Lamia, Larissa, Ioannina, until their dissolution, with Law 2026/92–, behind the voluntary of its nature, it hid privileged relations with local contractors, while there was no lack of interventions by local actors in terms of “where the road will pass through“, as the architect-urban planner Dimitris Fiotakis describes in his largely autobiographical novel And yet it did not end in '73 – Fiotakis served in MOMA as a Navy ensign, in the villages of Ikaria he was welcomed as “the road engineer”, she his quality counted, above all.
At this point, we think, it is worth pointing out that the colonels who seized power with the claim to reconcile conflicting interests of social groups with the general, supposedly, interest of the country, primarily by abolishing political competition, believed that the best way was to control the central planning and the implementation of policy tools, without the limitations of political competition and parliamentary and more generally institutional control.
They introduced, so to speak, authoritarian structures and institutions, while the increasingly diverse society demanded participation. The abolition of democratic institutions after the coup, favored the shift to practices of bypassing legal procedures with informal agreements, false excuses, aversion to competition and transparency in the relations of private individuals with the state, generalized suspicion. The dictatorship of the Colonels reinforced the unreliability of institutions and the process of decay of law and words.
To return to the MOMA, as characteristically mentioned by P. Picros, PN officer, who also participated in rehabilitation projects for the earthquake victims in Ioannina of the 1st MOMA:Before working with the army (…) I thought that (the MOMAs) would be labor-intensive units, with many men., that a large number of able volunteers, instead of practicing the traditional loofah, would be employed in productive work, for the benefit of our country (…) that cheap development projects would arise, with unpaid work. But when I got to know MOMA, I found that the labor-intensive technical works of the roads (retaining walls, storm drains, bridges) were tendered to local contractors. MOMA had as its object only what its name “Reconstruction Machinery'' indicated, that is bulldozers, graders, road rollers, cranes, road construction trucks and other similar heavy machinery (…)”.
After all, as the same officer mentions, in the cases where the military units themselves were working, the works were of an urgent nature, with the result that the required technical specifications, such as, for example, the gradients of the roads, were not followed. In any case, during the period 1965-1975 the road network of Greece expanded from 33,506 km to 39,810 km. That is, it presented a growth of 18%. The largest percentage of expansion concerned the provincial network which grew by 20% – and we have already seen the relative contribution of MOMAs.
Golden age for tech companies
For the larger projects, large technical companies are responsible – the seven-year period, the research has shown, constitutes a period of rapid development of technical companies, thanks also to the regime of extensive and largely scandalous tax “facilities” extended by the junta (ND 916/1971) based on law 4171 of 1961 on economic development incentives, but also thanks to law 608/1970 on “portfolio investment companies”, evolution of law 2687 of 1953 “on the protection of foreign capital”, and the counterparts of 1961 and 1963.
Extensive market intervention was attempted in the direction of defending the interests of private capital. Tax exemptions, doubling of state coverage of depreciation, liberalization of bank financing from September 1968, State interventions for expropriations and free land grants, free contracts for public works with foreign companies without studies, flexibility in budget overruns, guarantees and joint ventures with foreign financial houses to provide loans to the public, subsidizing interest rates on private lending, an increased degree of credit expansion were in daily practice.
At the same time and in parallel, to talk about road construction, projects were sometimes auctioned for only 5% or 2.5% of the total kilometers. The remaining kilometers were given, without an auction, “by extension”. Thus, a contract that before the “Revolution” had been awarded for 165 million dirhams, after the “extension” additions reached 5.7 billion, while a project with an initial cost of 80 million dirhams ended up costing 400, due to excesses, as it appears from data in the magazine Thachydromos on May 21, 1975.
In 1973, according to data from the TEE, the companies “Skapanevs”, EDOK, “Roads -Odostromata”, “Elliniki Techniki” each had assets of 1 billion, and in the seven years 1967-1973 55% of the profits of all technical companies concerned the aforementioned companies, while in the period 1968-1970 six technical companies made foreign loans with a total value of 4,280,000,000 Drach., 32 loans, according to the Statistical Yearbook of 1971. all the aforementioned are involved in road construction projects, in 1973-1974 he takes a loan of 7 million dollars for road construction projects in Central Greece, guaranteed by the National Bank and the State. In 1972, the total assets of the six large technical companies amounted to 4,200 million drachmas. If it is taken into account that only the fifth-class contracting companies participate in the sector, 58 in 1973, the oligopolistic nature of the technological capital in the country clearly emerges during period of the Seven Years, a character that is consolidated thanks to borrowing from abroad.
The passions of Egnatia and the Temple of Sotiros
We think it is worth mentioning the case of the American company “Robert McDonald” and the contract of 1969 (Government Gazette 1969/A/15) for the opening of Egnatia. The projects were budgeted at 150 million dollars, of which 45 million had to be paid by our country. But the American company had no capital of its own, so the Greek government would facilitate it with $80 million worth of government bonds. The American company was expected to receive as a fee for its services an amount equal to 14% of the cost of the entire project, i.e. 21 million dollars, while it could exploit the project for 30 years.
We know that the project was not carried out, since the Americans had subcontracted the project to Greek companies, but they did not secure even the minimal funds allocated to them. The Americans left, the Greek government was charged with 1.5 billion dirhams, the much-publicized road construction project remained in the plans, it was recorded as a “pharaonic” project, equivalent to the “Treasure of the nation”, the construction of the Temple of the Savior, for which , however, we recall, on the occasion, the Fourth National Assembly had voted in favor on July 3, 1829, at the instigation of Kapodistrias. As part of this plan, the junta planned to create the boulevard of tama, the starting point of which would be the monument to the Unknown Soldier. The boulevard would cross Lycabettus underground and lead to the precincts of the Church of the Savior in Turkovunia.
Both in the case of the Egnatia agreement and in the case of the “Tamato” road, the slogan “New Greece”, “reborn Greece” of a regime with the declared aim of the consolidation of the state machine which would be realized thanks to the end of the party transaction, of of nepotism and corruption, is not implemented.
However, road construction is becoming one of the best means of improving the regime's public image. This is also evident from the second Five-Year Development Plan of 1973, which was not implemented. In that program it was stated the intention to triple the expenditure in the field of transport works from 22,425 million Dr. which had been spent in the period 1968-1972 to 59,000 million Dr. for the period 1973-1977, while especially for road works 20,000 million drachmas would be made available. The quality, however, of the road construction projects carried out by the MOMAs and whether they met the technical specifications to constitute automobile infrastructure is, of course, under discussion. Besides, the arbitrariness of the Colonels was too much…
- Konstantinos P. Picros, Bundalas 1967, Athens 2014.
- Fiotakis, Dimitris, And yet it did not end in '73, Kedros, 2013.