Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Rip Off Republic Part 3

After a break for the Lovely Girls Contest (a.k.a The Rose of Tralee) Eddie Hobbs was back for the third episode of Rip Off Republic. This weeks episode was probably the weakest of the three, in my opinion, but then again I'm biased. You see this weeks episode was about Transport in Ireland today and the main focus was on cars and motorways. I don't actually own a car, seeing how I live a 20 minute walk to work, a 3 minute walk to a reliable bus and a 5 minute walk to the Luas, I am generally able to get anywhere I want faster out of a car than in one. I keep thinking I should get a car because I do need one for longer journeys and I'm beginning to cave to peer pressure. However last nights episode would actually put me off buying a car.

1/8th of all the governments tax take comes from motorists, through VAT, VRT, fuel and other stealth taxes. 4.2 Billion a year. Cars are more expensive here than in most if not all of the rest of Europe and after paying all that tax, you still end up having to queue to pay tolls on motorways. Personally I'm in favor of tolls, based on the idea that the user pays, so long as the tolling is fair and there are similar charges place on all new motorways and not a select few. Its the fact that you have to queue to pay that annoys me. The technology exists to handle electronic tolling and people should be forced to use it. No EasyPass? Then go back to the end of the queue for the single cash lane. Instead they turn off easy pass lanes to make everyone queue equally because a stubborn few wont get Easy Pass for the toll bridges.

The biggest controversy from last nights program was the insinuation that there was some dodgy dealings in the awarding of the contract to run the Westlink toll bridge to NTR. The company made political donations to politicians who then signed the contracts to award them the contract, knowing that huge profits would be made. In the interest of balance and fairness perhaps he should have listed all the politicians NTR made donations to, maybe it was all or most of them? Political donations from companies is a grey area, and Eddie should have been a little more careful cause I'm sure some of the parties would not be adverse to taking a libel action if they thought they had a case.

He briefly touched on the cost over runs and delays in the Luas, as well as how expensive train travel is. There seems to be massive cost overruns on all infrastructure projects with the average overrun a 86% in Ireland while the average in Europe is 20%. Projects don't seem to be costed or planned properly before they are announced to the public and the politicians don't feel any need to apologise to the public for massive over spending with tax payers money. I have to agree with him that the whole planning and costing process is a national scandal. In my opinion some companies bid for state contracts and just make up estimates knowing they will be able to take as long as they want and charge as much as they want once the work is started. That is a disgrace.

The show ended on a duller note than previously with Eddie explaining that 4.2 billion 1 euro coins side by side would stretch to the moon. No call for a public campaign which is a shame because he has the publics attention now and if he did ask them to do something as a sign of protest they would. One more episode to go. Hopefully he will go out with a bang.

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