Decades come and go, and Greece’s development, mainly based on tourism, progresses rapidly. In Mani, however, the pace is slow, relying mainly on individual initiatives. Public investment that would complete these initiatives and accelerate the development process is scarce and sporadic, while the promotional interventions of local representatives are almost non-existent. The critical factor for the development process, which is the radical improvements of the central road axis Kalamata – Areopoli – Gytheio – Sparta, has undergone very minor improvements over the past decades. The initiatives and sporadic interventions of the last regional administration were a form of departure from the long-term stagnation and the depreciative effects that occur from year to year, but they were small compared to what is required. Despite all this, nowhere on the horizon is there a willingness from the representatives of our region for joint actions and the presentation of well-documented requests to the central government, which is the body that makes the final decisions on important issues such as this. Two characteristic examples, related to the central road axis of Mani, prove the preceding observations.

A small improvement in the travel time from Kalamata to Western Mani, the tourist areas of Kardamyli, Stoupa, Agios Nikolaos, Areopoli, the Diros caves, and Gerolimenas could be achieved through the funding and execution of the bypass project of Kampos – Stavropigio. It should be noted that the study of the project began in 1996, initiated by the then Prefect of Messinia Panagiotis Foteas, following a joint proposal from the then independent communities of Western Mani! In the almost thirty years that have passed since then, significant financial resources have been consumed for improvements, revisions, updates, and additions to the main study, and its companion studies, but it seems that they were not linked to the final resolution of the issue. In this case too, there were significant promotional activities by the recent regional administration, but again, this case did not reach the funding and the start of the construction of the project…

Another old issue is the study of the Sparti – Gytheio road. It started in 2005 when the then Minister of Infrastructure Georgios Souflias visited Gytheio and subsequently announced the study following a relevant request. The study, however, has not yet been completed! While one part of it concerning the bypass of Sparti (Skoura – Pyri section) was constructed from the beginning, the old route and the section from the bypass junction towards Monemvasia to Gytheio remain the same as they were in the original layout many decades ago.

Certainly, the end of the Athens – Corinth – Tripoli motorway in Kalamata, as well as in Sparti, brought Mani much closer in terms of time, and a significant part of its tourist development is owed to this fact. However, visitors who quickly arrive with their cars to the capitals of Messinia and Laconia, if they are not Philo-Maniots, prefer other, more accessible local road destinations to continue their planned days of rest and recreation. Thus, the initial design of the central axis of Mani, in the footsteps of the old mule path, appears as a disincentive for easily mobile road travelers to the two cities where the new motorway ends, but also for their residents who wish to change scenery by visiting neighbouring areas with significant natural and cultural imprint.

An additional element that imposes the necessity for promoting requests aimed at planning and implementing radical improvements on the central axis of Mani is the expected upgrade of Kalamata airport, which serves as the gateway to the Peloponnese for air travellers from all continents. Whatever consortium, from those that have expressed interest in the airport’s long-term lease wins, will have to work with large travel companies from around the world, which will bring travellers to the western borders of Mani through Kalamata airport. The necessity of attracting this category of travellers to our region through the radical redesign of its main road axis becomes clear.

From the above, it is evident that the main goal for those who wish the development of our region to gain momentum, generating new incomes and new jobs for its inhabitants, but also in general, is the redesign of the central road axis. To achieve this goal, coordination of the elected representatives of Mani is required for joint actions within a unified framework of claims that, in addition to their promotion to the state administration, will also stimulate the necessary interventions from all institutions and all persons of increased influence in our region.

                                                                                                            THE EDITORIAL BOARD