A young Romanian businessman from the northeastern town of Suceava has built a metre of motorway to protest the lack of infrastructure in Romania, especially in the eastern part of the country.
Stefan Mandachi, owner of the Spartan fast-food chain, is on a mission to push the government to invest into better roads, a criticism also repeatedly made by international investors in the country. Romania’s eastern region in particular lacks modern infrastructure and as a consequence it finds it difficult to attract investors.
Mandachi says he has built the very first metre of motorway in Romania’s historic Moldova region, at a cost of €4,500, reported local newspaper Monitorul de Suceava. The “motorway” will be inaugurated on March 15.
In addition, Mandachi announced that on March 15 activity in all his 40 fast food shops will be halted for 15 minutes, and expressed hope that other businesspeople in Romania will join his protest.
“We are learning that we will have a motorway in 2026 … If I tell one of my employees that I will offer him safer, better and better paid conditions as of 2026, he will slap me and immediately leave the company. But, the state asks me to fully pay taxes on the 25th [of the month] and will offer me better conditions as of 2026,” Mandachi wrote on his blog in February.
“I have restaurants all over the country and transport costs … matter,” he added.
It is not only the historic region of Moldova which lacks infrastructure. While there are a number of highway construction projects underway in Romania, many have been plagued by delays.
Investors have repeatedly underlined that the lack of modern infrastructure in Romania affects their productivity while poor infrastructure also keeps investors away. In 2016, Romania lost out on a €500mn investment from German car producer Daimler because of its weak infrastructure, former economy minister Costin Borc said at the time.
Mandachi has already printed 3mn paper tray covers reading “Romania wants motorways” to handed out to his customers, according to his blog, as well as millions of napkins also reading “Romania wants motorways”.
On March 5, two companies from the southern town of Campina announced they will join Mandachi’s protest, halting their activity for 15 minutes.
“It is a solidarity protest because, like Stefan Mandachi, we are also unhappy with the authorities’ lack of interest regarding motorway construction in Romania,” the two companies said in a press release quoted by Campinatv.ro.
Mandachi is continuing earlier protests by residents and businesses from eastern parts of Romania. In May last year, hundreds of cars came from the Moldova region to Bucharest, to park in front of the government’s headquarters. The protesters asked the government to start building motorways that would link eastern and northeastern Romania to Transylvania in the west and southern Romania.
In November, the parliament adopted a law envisaging that the 320 km long motorway will reach the border with neighbouring Moldova and should feature a bridge over the Prut river, g4 media reported at that time.
However, protest actions continued. Last month, civic associations supporting the planned construction of a motorway between the northeastern city of Iasi and the central city of Targu Mures rallied in Bucharest asking the government to put into practice a law which envisages the construction of the motorway. They were also unhappy that the financing for the infrastructure project was not included in the budget for this year.