Tens of thousands of people are stopping work for 15 minutes today, March 15 at 15:00hr, in an attempt to raise awareness over the lack of highways in Romania. The movement has been initiated by a local entrepreneur from Suceava, Stefan Mandachi, who runs a chain of restaurants countrywide.
Mandachi has also built one metre of highway in Suceava, between two small localities, in a symbolic move to raise awareness. On Friday, he has also symbolically inaugurated the small section of motorway, in the presence of around 2,000 people. “I am overwhelmed by the solidarity among Romanians today. There are many companies in Romania that had a positive reaction. Those corporations that did not protest for highways probably don’t need highways“, he told Digi24.
Among those who responded the challenge there were IT companies, transport trade unions and associations, JYSK Romania, Viorel Catarama, 35 mayors from Brasov, other mayors from other cities and villages in the country.
In the home stretch, President Iohannis has announced today in a public statement endorsement for the 15-minute “#metoo” protest.
“Regarding the protest today at 15:00hr- I want to protesters to know that I am standing next to them,” said the head of state pronouncing #metoo slogan in Romania <Șî eu>, with a Moldovan accent.
Timisoara mayor, Nicolae Robu, and the one of Alba Iulia, Mircea Hava,have also announced on Friday they are joining protest. Roby added that he will be on his way to Bucharest at 15:00hr and he will stop the car for 15 minutes and will be live on Facebook.
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Romania has also protested today against the lack of motorways. “The lack of infrastructure is pushing the businessman in Romania to increase transport prices and thus lose the competition with the neighbouring countries. As such, the entire population of Romania is hurting, through the high prices on the shelf. I hope this wake-up call will be heard and understood by the political decision-maker, and the measures to recover infrastructure will be taken as a matter of urgency,” said the Chamber’s president, Mihai Daraban.
The embassy of Denmark to Romania had an original Facebook post in Romanian/ English, but using Moldovan accent, announcing their support of the protest:
– Ci-i cu bandirola albî?
– Îi pientru autostradî…
– Ci autostradî?
(English: Why the white armband?/Because of highway/Which highway?/Exactly!)”
Two police trade unions, Europol and ROPOL, joined the protest. “We join the civic call launched to warn over the rulers’ incompetence on the issue of the road infrastructure in Romania. Our colleagues working today will stop activity at 15:00hr and will get out of offices outside the buildings, while those in the field will go in the corner of a crossroad”, EUROPOL says.
In its turn, ROPOL police trade union urges its members to take a break at 15:00hr. “Maybe…you get suddenly hungry at 15:00hr!”
“If we cannot mobilize for us, for our legal rights, maybe we can do it for Romania… Just a gram of courage is needed!,” ROPOL posts on Facebook.
FORT -the Romanian Transport Operators Federation has also announced its members will stop the activity today, in solidarity with the protest against the lack of highways.
“Freight and passenger transport, the sanguine circuit of the economy cannot work without highways!,” they argued.
The National Trade Union of Sports and Youth is also joining the protest. “The sports need highways. The youth is demanding infrastructure, the lack of it is affecting us because: it takes us more to travel for sports competitions and youth events; the costs determined by the poor infrastructure are transferred on other investments; it compels us to have extra expenses and wasted time; it jeopardizes the life and health of the athletes by favoring accidents,” says the trade union.
The Romania Journal is endorsing the protest as well, suspending work at 15.00.
PSD announces start of construction works for Moldavia Highway
On top of all, right on the day of the protest, ruling Social Democrat Party (PSD) has announced on Facebook the start of the Moldavia Highway project, with Transports minister Razvan Cuc attending the inauguration.
“Moldavia Highway is starting today! The ring road of Bacau is part of the Moldavia Highway (pan -European corridor IX). It is a project launched in 2017, during PSD ruling, it’s worth EUR 144 million, financed,” reads the PSD post.