Greece's Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis chaired a presentation of a reconstruction plan for the fire-ravaged island of Evia, that saw locals flee for their lives during the devastating summer fires of August 2021.
The committee drafting and implementing the reconstruction plan is chaired by Stavros Benos, an experienced local administration official who as mayor spearheaded the reconstruction of earthquake-stricken Kalamata. Besides Benos, the meeting also included several cabinet members, agencies, and regional and local officials among others.
Mitsotakis analysed the plan and highlighted the key project of the new road from Chalkida - location of the bridge with the mainland - and Strofylia, in the lower section of northern Evia. "We are talking about 56km, a newly laid out road that will significantly reduce travel from northern Evia to Chalkida [...] and will entirely transform the nature of road infrastructure in northern Evia," Mitsotakis said. He added that the project "will end the road isolation of northern Evia and make the implementation of the rest of our plan very easy."
Of the road's 56km, only 9km of road is old, and it will be upgraded. The new road is expected to reduce travel time between Chalkida and Strofylia by 40 minutes.
The reconstruction plan, which was presented by Benos at the cabinet last month, includes two basic components, the prime minister said: immediate relief, and work done at the forest to prevent winter floods. Both have been implemented, the latter due to "great work done in collaboration with people experienced in forests, forest cooperatives, and locals who helped" to clear areas and use destroyed trees to build dams, he said.
Concluding his discussion, Mitsotakis said the project is long term. "We have the funding, the willingness, the experience, and the knowledge to impelent it, but we shall do so only in agreement with local society, taking into account at all times your proposals, objections, reservations, and creative ideas that you will be able to present throughout this process."
To this effect, Benos said that a new platform went live as of Tuesday called "Evia Meta", and invited citizens, agencies, professionals, local and regional authorities, societies and Civil Society to submit proposals, comments and suggestions. Turning to the prime minister, he said that all the projects will be guaranteed, backed by European Union institutions, while committee members will not be paid but serve as volunteers.
Discussion followed with ministers and regional authorities including mayors presenting aspects of the reconstruction plan relate to their responsibilities.