Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Ten hours – for a 600 kilometre journey from Romania’s capital to one of its most western city. That is, I suppose, a pretty good measure of how bad Romanian roads and road management are. First the 100 kilometre stretch of its only “Motorway” – although it’s difficult to use that term of a badly constructed 2-lane construct. Then wasting at least an hour in making 2 wrong turns at Pitesti – where M-way signs make no mention of Timisoara or Arad. The maps offer no help in working out what might be the best route – east to the Danube and the iron gorge which I vaguely remember from a journey 15 years ago or north through Hunedoara county. We compromise and take a middle route.
At least twice we are required to make very dangerous U-turns – and the spectacular road north from Trg Jiu starts with a stretch so pot-holed the traffic is reduced to a 10 kmh crawl. Other roads, we are warned, are worse!
Roads and road management, it seems to me, say a lot about a country’s spirit and administrative capacity. Think of Hitler’s autobahns, And Germanic discipline at the traffic lights. In Baku, I suggested that the utter contempt shown for pedestrians was an important index for their public admin system. Of course, while it was true that the sharing of responsibilities for Baku’s road system between 4 agencies did make action difficult, there does have to be the intent – which was missing in Baku’s plutocratic environment! Romania’s current President was Transport Minister – albeit briefly before he ran and won Bucharest City as a better stepping stone to real power. He minces no words – but I haven’t heard him talk about the scandal of his country’s transport system.
And, while we’re on the subject of travel, let me mention another internet discovery - hidden-europe