STIB and army in Olympic triumphs
13 August 2004
BRUSSELS — Belgian transport company STIB has played a key role in preparations for this year’s Olympics, it was revealed on Friday.
The free daily newspaper Metro reported that a team of 15 STIB experts has spent the past two years helping Athens ensure spectators can easily move around the city.
STIB’s head of telecommunications and electricity said the specialists had advised the Greek company Tram, sharing its expertise on infrastructure and rolling stock, and had helped the Greeks develop a tram network.
“It’s been very interesting to develop such a project because you really create something,” he said. “And the climate is better than Belgium’s, which was very much appreciated.”
The tram lines – totalling 26 kilometres – run along the coast between Neo Fabiro and Elliniko, where the Olympic villages are sited, and between the sea and the city centre, to connect up with the metro.
A second team from STIB has also spent its time commuting to and from Athens to assist the Greeks with the enlargement of the Metro network.
Belgian troops have also rallied round at the Games. Twenty-seven men and women and about 10 vehicles are in Athens, serving in a multinational Nato force against terrorist attacks.
The Belgian soldiers will join Polish and Hungarian forces under a Czech command. Their role will be to collect samples of suspect materials in the event of a chemical or biological attack. It would then be analysed at a Hungarian laboratory.
“We hope everything goes well and that our troops won’t have to intervene,” said Belgium Defence Minister Andre Flahaut, who has been in Greece since Wednesday. “But we must plan for the worst.
“I want everyone in Belgium and abroad to be able to see the professionalism of our army and the services they provide to the civilian population.”
The opening ceremony of the Games kicks off tonight, with around 45 Belgians expected to take part, including athletes and King Albert.
[Copyright Expatica 2004]
Subject: Belgian news