IS MANI ENTITLED TO A MODERN MAIN ROAD?

It is a fact that tourism is reaching every area of Mani. What can we do to facilitate the development of tourism even more? We believe that a prospective traveller will be attracted to our region, because of its geophysics, climate and culture. However, as this potential tourist looks into the possibility of a trip to Mani, he/she might have some reservations regarding the main road in Mani, the Kalamata-Kardamyli-Areopolis-Gytheion road. The state of this main road as well as the Sparta-Gytheion motorway (particularly after Krokees, where the road gets split into two destinations, those of Monemvasia and Gytheion), might negatively influence the potential traveller to Mani, as he/she is making the final decision.

The facts mentioned in the paragraph above about the state of the Mani main road should mobilise all those who love Mani, and particularly the politicians who represent our region. We are certain that all Maniots and philo-Maniots  are worried about the poor state of our roads. We need therefore to find a way to improve the transportation, so that tourism continues to increase. We, the representatives of the Maniot Solidarity Association and the founders of this newspaper, have many times and in many ways expressed our views: we believe that we need solidarity and joint action so that we can drive forward the most urgent Maniot needs, the most important of which is probably the Mani main road. Unfortunately, in the past there has been no joint action or concerted effort in this regard.

Let us mention two public works that have improved the Mani main road: a) the detour of Gytheion and b) the road improvements in the areas near Passava and near Areopolis. These are both praiseworthy, but fragmented projects, that were undertaken by the corresponding prefectures before the year 2010. However, what is needed now is a full study of the road from Marathea (where the detour of Gytheion ends) to Areopolis, but this has not been approved as yet. After the completion of the two public works mentioned above, the travelling time from Mani to Sparta has been reduced somewhat. However, the study for the improvement of the Sparta-Gytheion road, which had been announced in 2006 and which would reduce travelling time even more, seems to have been abandoned! And it remains abandoned ten years later…

The new Koscaraga bridge and the new stretch of road from the Koscaraga bridge to Kriskios (a settlement of Sotirianika) are two of the few projects undertaken by the prefecture from the period before 2010. Yet the detour Kambos-Sotirianika, which had been pre-approved for EEC subsidy and which if completed, would reduce travelling time by 15 minutes, was abandoned in favour of other projects outside of Mani. This happened without any Maniots objecting! The study for the detour of Verga which would be the natural continuation of the Kalamata Peripheral Ring Road was announced in 2007, but it was also subsequently cancelled, because there was not enough support!

The trigger for writing this article has been the news that many politicians, municipal leaders and businessmen have been mobilised in order to secure a subsidy for the road Kalamata-Messini Rizomylou towards Pylos. There is no doubt that these people have more influence than us Maniots; they also know how to mobilise effectively. Today, mobilisation is a tool that can counteract the disadvantage of having a small population in areas such as Mani. By “mobilisation” we mean joint actions, conscious and well-coordinated solidarity efforts so that we can use to advantage every possibility for intervention and every chance to showcase our just request for an improved main road in Mani. The first people who should internalise this need and work towards this goal are those working in the tourist sector, because they will be the first ones to enjoy increased income and higher living standard for their families.  But it is not only they who will benefit from an improved central road; all inhabitants of Mani will benefit from the tourist development of our area. The right people to coordinate these joint undertakings should of course be our local political leaders. If they coordinate and successfully foster the common actions that we mentioned above, they are the ones who will be credited with the beneficial results…

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