Dozens of villagers block highway construction project

.c The Associated Press 

CLUJ, Romania (AP) - Dozens of elderly villagers in Transylvania burned tires 
Thursday, blocking construction of a new highway to demand that the government deliver 
the compensation it promised.

The villagers blocked access to a bridge being built by the constructor, U.S.-based 
Bechtel Group Inc., by placing dozens of burning tires on a field near Ciurila, a 
village some 400 kilometers (250 miles) northwest of Bucharest.

The government payments - promised for expropriation of land for the road project - 
are more than a month late.

The expropriation reawakened memories of communist times, when thousands of Romanians 
were forced to give up their lands to collective farms. Those who refused were 
imprisoned, tortured and deported to work in labor camps.

Most lands were returned to their owners after communism fell in 1989.

The highway project, however, promised to bring a windfall to those who lost land, as 
the state promised large payments to avoid litigation.

``The communists took our land for the collective farms, and now the state took it for 
the highway, without paying us,'' 65-year-old Ileana Manciu was quoted by the local 
daily Ziarul Clujeanului as saying.

Manciu, a retiree who said she lives on a pension of 700,000 lei (euro17, US$21) a 
month, said the government had promised a payment of more than euro24,000 (about 
US$30,000) for parts of her land that will be crossed by the highway.

Local prefect Valentin Cuibus said the landowners would receive their money, but added 
that the payments had been delayed due to complicated bureaucratic procedures. He did 
not say when the money would arrive.

Earlier this year, Bechtel signed a US$2.5 billion contract to build the 415-kilometer 
(260-mile) highway linking the central city of Brasov to Bors on the Hungarian border. 
Construction is planned to be completed in 2012.

Bechtel officials said it was up to the Romanian government to pay the expropriated 

The contract was criticized by the European Union and the Romanian opposition because 
the government did not use a tender process.   

"Let me, at least, to know that she'll try
Then she'll be a true love of mine"

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

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