Three weeks after disaster struck the archaeological site at Arkotiri Santorini , Professor Christos Doumas, the Director of Excavations, wrote a long letter to the press stating his views on the project, its costs as well as the accident. Leading to the death of a British tourist, the accident has also resulted in a clash between the current government and the opposition.
Regretting the fact that the accident had been escalated into a crisis, Doumas criticized the distortion of facts by many individuals, who had no information about the facts surrounding the project. Though initially, many reports stated that the entire roof had collapsed, Doumas clarified in his report that only a section of the roof, which would comprise to only 5% of the entire roof, had in fact collapsed.
Refusing to provide a complete evaluation of the damages to the site, he expressed the fact that it was difficult to do so till the committee appointed by state completes it work. He further revealed that the columns which were made to support the drainpipes were undamaged, which would make the task of temporarily protecting the exposed parts of the site, easier. He further added that the majority of the collapsed section had fallen over open area, indicating that the damage to the site would not be extensive and certainly not irreversible.
Doumas expressed concern for the monument, as winter is advancing, and requested the concerned authorities to quicken the pace of the investigation to avoid irreparable damage.
The Professor then revealed the facts regarding the finances of the project and recalled that the initial proposal to replace the old shelter was approved on the 2nd of February, 1996 and so was its inclusion into the 2nd Community Support Framework (CSF). The proposed design was approved by the Culture Ministry in 1998, following which a competition was announced regarding the construction of the shelter, in the European Communities Gazette as well as the Greek Press in May, 1998.
In 1999, the competition was budget at 3,100 million drachmas, and this was subsidized by the CSF with 3,513,429,719 drachmas, for a quarter of the total. On November 30th, 1999, a contract was signed with J & P and Avax-Gnomon-Impreglio. In 2001, a further 10,271,460 euros funded another quarter of the project, from the 3rd CSF, and 2004 saw the final subsidy of 20,013,590 euros from Public Investments Program. At this point Doumas mentions that the contract states that conventional budget is provided with the consortium without any additions.
As many individuals had claimed that the project had cost the government too much, Doumas gave a brief but precise explanation to disprove that fact. Stating that the total credits were of 40,595,922 euros, from this amount 546,550 euros were kept aside for the purpose of expropriations and a further 3,232,173 euros were for the excavation of the foundations, which total to 150 in all. From the remaining amount 586,941 euros were meant for further construction. This left a remainder of 36,230,258 euros, which include outlay for all the above costs, then for an area of 14,000 square meters, the cost would be less than 500 euros / square meter.
Currently the repair of damages at the site has been suspended till the experts from the culture ministry issue their report, for which 3 months time has been assigned.