The tragedy occurred on Friday May 27 at the playground, on Dafnomili Street in Neapoli Exarchion. A fragment of the fence, which consisted of 5 links, the leaf of the entrance gate fell and crushed a five-year-old child who was playing on the spot.
The kid was taken to the hospital with head injuries and a broken arm, while the situation, by pure chance, did not turn into a tragedy.
The issue, which sparked widespread discussion about security in the city, especially after Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis’ strong public outcry to Civil Protection Minister Takis Theodorikakis over policing in central Athens a few weeks ago, led to a public meeting.
On May 30, activists of the “Ανοιχτή Πόλη” movement, which is in opposition to the municipality, gathered at the Athens City Hall. Daphne Sinani, President of the Association of Parents and Guardians of the 14th Primary School of Athens (πρόεδρος του συλλόγου γονέων και κηδεμόνων του δημοτικού σχείου αθηνών), appeared before the municipal council, writes ethnos.gr.
City Hall protest
“You don’t seem to fully understand the gravity of the incident. A heavy metal door crushed a 5-year-old child and caused him a head injury, broke his arm, causing bruises and abrasions all over his body. The child asked his mother if he would die! And what do we see? The ΟΠΑΝΔΑ officials came and just pasted up signs so that the children would not twist the bolts! Because they were told that the children themselves were to blame for what happened, or that it happened due to vandalism, or maybe someone cut the door fasteners with a laser (…). We have a few questions left: As far as we know, this site was certified in 2018. What about her fence? Was the playground checked later? Is there such a procedure (after what time and by whom is a regular check carried out)? Are there any documents confirming the inspection carried out? Has anyone signed this document?”
We demand the obvious: the safety of our children in the playground. Its territory was abandoned, and the site itself was closed due to ground subsidence. With a fight, we managed to open it after a major overhaul, but the basketball baskets were never replaced. And it’s not just that. Daphnomili has no lighting. The school of Pikionis, an architectural monument of international scale, is being destroyed. But even in the wider area, the infrastructure is abandoned: on the Strefi hill, the school in Coletti, etc.”
Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis made a speech on this issue at the meeting of the Municipal Council of Athens on Monday 30 May. According to him, large-scale security checks have begun at all playgrounds in the municipality of Athens. As he noted, these checks began even before the accident occurred.
Kostas Bakoyannis stressed that the responsibility lies with him. “It’s the mayor’s business,” he said, wishing “never to discuss again” the playground renovation work that had begun.
The mayor of Athens from the very beginning called “the problem very serious” and, in his words, “Friday was a shocking day for him.” According to Mr. Bakoyannis, during his almost three years of office, out of 82 playgrounds in Athens, 24 have already been reconstructed, and contracts have been signed for twelve more. The construction of three new playgrounds was also ensured, the reconstruction of two more at the expense of sponsorship, studies on the reconstruction of thirteen more are being completed. The total budget is 6.4 million euros.