Romanian prime minister: ‘I walk to work’

Foto: INQUAM/Octav Ganea

It was a simple statement, but news that the Romanian prime minister walks to work made headlines on Friday.

In some European countries, ministers walk, take the bus, or even cycle to work. Less so in Romania.

Most high-ranking officials traditionally opt for chauffeur-driven limos with blacked-out windows, flashing lights and bodyguards to carry out their official duties.

Some consider it a perk of the job, a symbol of their status, or simply feel it is the most efficient way of getting around Bucharest which has some of the heaviest traffic in Europe.

However, things appear to changing in the East European country.

Prime Minister Florin Citu says he often walks to work and talks to people on the way, even occasionally finding time for a coffee.

“I speak to Bucharesters; they stop me and we chat. They even recognize me with my mask and hat on,” the 48-year-old Liberal prime minister told national news agency Agerpres on the eve of his government’s Green Friday initiative to raise environmental awareness.

„I’ve told (environment minister) Barna Tanczos that I often walk (to work)  but I’m glad this has become official now.”

Romania has lagged behind other European countries with environment issues such as recycling waste, and needs to adopt measures to improve environmental care to keep in line with European Union rules.

With this in mind, Mr Tanczos launched “Green Friday” campaign on Wednesday in a bid to reduce the number of cars on the road and air pollution especially in major cities.

People are encouraged to leave their cars at home and hop on public transport such as the subway, trams, buses, or use bicycles, electric scooters or walk which cause less pollution.

“More than 60% of air pollution in big cities is caused by traffic, the minister said.

The goal is to get one in four public employees to choose an alternative form of transport on Fridays.

“Green Friday … is a civic initiative (we) are launching because there is a lot of pressure on the surrounding environment and everyone has a carbon footprint that we leave from our daily activity.”

There are plans for half of public workers to leave their cars at home on Fridays in the next three years.

To encourage the initiative, the environment minister said he would talks to mayors and local authorities to lay on free public transport on Fridays.

„I specially chose Friday as it’s often a short working day, and usually casual, with people not dressing formally or putting on a tie,” he said.

“So commuting to work can be ‘a lighter variety” too on other kinds of transport.”


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