Monday, May 5, 2008

Riga City Council into Guiness book of records?

I am happily back in Istanbul and we just had a very good time with Hannes who is actually better known as the chief of the Uhuduur group. En route to Istanbul Hannes&Co stayed at my place in Salaspils, and we discussed peculiarities of politics while the downturn of the global economy is forcefully passing its threshold in the Baltic States. Similar discussions were continued in Beyoglu cafe's, and I brought out the fact of the Southern bridge in Riga again, because ESTonians arrived to Istanbul prior me and they did not know about Chinese builders opening the new Runyan bridge.

So, whilst trying to dissect raison d'etre of the City of Riga councilors I remembered an old anecdote from the Soviet times that was accommodated to the present situation. The story is about the City of Riga announcing international tender for building the new Southern bridge across the "rio grande":-) Daugava.

"Three contenders showed up to the session of the City Council - Chinese, Germans and consortium of Latvian entrepreneurs. Councillors asked contenders to reveal approximate costs of their blueprints. Chinese said that they would easily build it for 1 billion euros. Germans said that they would use the best technologies in the world and they would build the safest bridge for 2 billion euros. Finally, the local consortium said that they are the only "local experts" and said that it is not possible to build that bridge cheaper than for 3 billion euros.

So, councillors convened for a whole month and made the decision to support the local consortium. Thus the local consortium "paid" one billion to the "city fathers", took one billion for themselves and finally asked the Chinese to build the bridge for the sum Chinese pledged they are ready to build it."

This anecdote very vividly describes, how the present government chose contenders for building the new National library in Latvia, because Estonian construction company "Merks" was disqualified under rather questionable circumstances.

Nevertheless, forget about shady circumstances and the fact that Riga citizens children in three generations shall pay for their "golden bridge", as it is euphemistically called in Latvian already, because there is something positive in this story as well. The positive news is that whilst building the Southern bridge Latvia could finally get into the Guinness book of records. After several attempts of all kind of persons cooking longest apple pie, brewing strongest beer or doing many other outstanding deeds, actually Latvia could get into the Guinness book of records due to the biggest amount of money spent for building 1oom of concrete bridge. It means that City of Riga Councillors could already advertise the unfinished bridge as the national landmark and bring foreign tourists to see, how well Riga city councillors have learned to "spend" millions of euros? Thus, the property prices would only rise near the viaduct, and they could actually build the "Golden Bridge of Daugava" museum right in the centre of it.

They could display the story about how the bridge was built, make comparisons with Millau, Runyan or any other bridges around the world. Thus, they could put up a huge billboard showing which city councillor is being imprisoned already, and who's court case is still pending. Then they could establish also electronic billboard showing who's sentence is expiring and with how much money he/she is left after being released from the prison etc, etc... . So, dear readers, if you have some novel ideas about what could be on display in the museum of "Golden Bridge of Daugava" just let me know. And while readers and bystanders are contemplating about novel ideas, the Riga City councillors should be proud about establishing another historic landmark:)


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