Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Reference the FT.com story

The other example of technical/economic cooperation as a solvent for political fury I was thinking of, but failed to produce on Friday, were the sewers of Nicosia. The sewerage system of the divided city was (I think) the work of a colonial engineer who modelled the system on that set up for London in the 1850s by Sir Joseph Bazalgette, with the mains laid out so that the shit would be unfailingly carried away by gravity. An elegant solution, and one that obviously had no connection to the political map above ground. When the city was divided on racial lines after the civil war and the 1974 Turkish intervention, and two entirely separate and mutually nonrecognising administrations appeared on each side of the green line, the sewers went on functioning despite. Until, that is, the tunnels began to suffer from age and wear. Who would repair them? Especially as depending on the stretch of sewer, one side might have to do work that would only benefit the other.

It sounds like an example from a university lecture on Locke or perhaps on functionalism, but it was reality.

In the end, after sewage began to leak into the streets, the two sewers boards had to co-operate discreetly on rehabilitating the system. Once they were doing that, other possibilities appeared... After all, everyone shits and drinks water, no?

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