Bulgaria's 'Astonishing' Snow StormEditorial |Author: Maria Guineva | January 12, 2012, Thursday // 10:32| views
A heavy snow storm hit Bulgaria last week, leaving villages and towns in the dark, cold and dry, blocked roads, traffic havoc, scores stranded in snow drifts, and a number of schools closed.
Some threaten civil unrest after being left in distress for a week. Top Bulgarian winter resorts, which count on January revenues as does the national economy, experienced power outages and lack of drinking water.
Regional Minister, Lilyana Pavlova, offered a novel explanation –the snow blockade on the main Hemus highway had been "astonishing" - a step ahead from the usual excuse that the snow was a "surprise." Several heads of highway bosses rolled.
Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, called for arrests of drivers who fail to install winter tires, prompting heating arguments on the issue of truck tires. The truth of the matter is that most transport companies in Bulgaria save on cost by using second-hand tires.
Interior Minister, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, declared that snow removal contractors must be held accountable. He says firms take part in public tenders by declaring available equipment, and it turns out later that it cannot be used or was subleased to other companies, which bid in other tenders. If at least one senior official is aware of this practice, why were the winning bids awarded then?
As a tradition – Bulgarian drivers fail to obey orders and directions of traffic police; as a tradition – Bulgarians complain about the treacherous roads, but very few clean their sidewalks.
The winter crisis headquarters convened Sunday when the forecast was for the snow to come Thursday into Friday. The power utilities explain that such combination of heavy snow and the mercury going up during the day, causing ice on power lines, had been unseen in years.
The bottom line is that it always snows in Bulgaria in January. And Bulgarians are always left with one recourse – snow eventually melts. The issue is simply a reflection of the overburdening combination of incompetence, neglect, and corruption.
22 000 calls were placed to the European-wide emergency 112 hotline in one day; most got the busy signal. Some of the lucky ones, who were able to get through, were told this: "Call tomorrow; we are too busy now..."
A total collapse on all levels of an apparently non-existing system.
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