Road rage

3 August 2010
Imagine a road paved with truffles. Or a street lined with fur coats. Or a river of cognac. No, not a Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory for adults, but what the Russian government might as well have had built instead of a normal road in the town of Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. The reason is that corruption has inflated the cost of the 30-mile stretch of road to £4.9 billion, as worked out by the Russian edition of Esquire magazine and reported in the Daily Telegraph in the UK. At that price, you could also line the road with a layer of oysters or black caviar. Russian Esquire was trying to illustrate the corruption endemic in many areas of Russian society. It said that the country’s roads are among the most expensive in the world to build because of the backhanders taken by officials to award contracts, and the falsification of materials and labour costs. In Trinidad and Tobago, on the other hand, the government appears to want to spend absolutely nothing on roads. Contractors are reported to be very cross at the suggestion by the acting prime minister and works and transport minister, Jack Warner, that because they have made fat profits over the years they should give a free road to the nation. The president of the Trinidad and Tobago Contractors Association, Mikey Joseph, said: “This will give an unfair advantage to the contractors who can afford to give a free road over those who can’t.”
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