12 July 2010 The Australian rock band AC/DC drew 60,000 people for a spectacular concert in downtown Bucharest in May. It was by far the largest musical event held in Romania this year — but it made headlines around the world for another reason.

According to a complaint the band’s managers filed with Romanian authorities, officials with the Romanian national road authority at the Nadlac border crossing with Hungary solicited 50 euros for each of the 29 trucks carrying the band’s equipment.

The officials claimed the band hadn’t paid a road fee. In reality, the fee can only be legitimately charged when a vehicle is inspected.

To avoid delays en route to Hungary, the band’s managers decided to pay. They realised they had been cheated when they did not receive a receipt.

As news of the border incident spread, the transport ministry — which oversees the road authority — decided to conduct an internal investigation and warned local branches to take the matter seriously.

„I got the report on the AC/DC incident. Everybody on that shift was fired and the measures will also affect others who work there,” Transportation Minister Radu Berceanu said during a press conference.

Moreover, he added, four employees of the national road authority have been sacked and six others were disciplined. The border crossing chief was stripped of her managerial post and will work now as an inspector.

The Romanian blogging community voiced everything from outright condemnation to disbelief and irony [all links lead to blogs in Romanian].

„Lucky for us AC/DC ran into this trouble, otherwise we would have never found out how bribe-prone our customs officials are,” comments on the newspaper Evenimentul Zilei forum. „What happens when ordinary people are being ripped off for so many years while the authorities have been tolerating this [behaviour]?”

„I just couldn’t believe this… I told myself this is not true, that someone is exaggerating. Did it really happen?” asks , a visitor on Arhiblog.

„If anyone doubted bribery is governing us, then the doubts have been dispelled,” writes . He gives high marks, though, to the authorities for reacting promptly.

„The power of example can work here, too,” the blogger writes.

Not all are convinced. According to , „the four have been replaced by others as [thirsty] as the fired ones. I don’t think anyone expects bribery, which has been around for centuries, to disappear overnight.”

concurs. „This is the purest Romanian tradition, forget about [offering] bread and salt,” he says, referring to the local custom of welcoming guests.

A few, like , argue that the affair has been blown out of proportion. „I think AC/DC just wants some publicity at the expense of our wretched customs officials,” she writes.

(SET), a web site sponsored by the US Department of Defense in support of UN Resolution 1244, designed to provide an international audience with a portal to a broad range of information about Southeastern Europe. It highlights movement toward greater regional stability and steps governments take toward integration into European institutions. SET also focuses on developments that hinder both terrorist activity and support for terrorism in the region.

Read the article on Balkan Travelers

AC/DC Fell Prey to Romanian Customs Officials

12 July 2010 The Australian rock band AC/DC drew 60,000 people for a spectacular concert in downtown Bucharest in May. It was by far the largest musical event held in Romania this year — but it made headlines around the world for another reason.

According to a complaint the band’s managers filed with Romanian authorities, officials with the Romanian national road authority at the Nadlac border crossing with Hungary solicited 50 euros for each of the 29 trucks carrying the band’s equipment.

The officials claimed the band hadn’t paid a road fee. In reality, the fee can only be legitimately charged when a vehicle is inspected.

To avoid delays en route to Hungary, the band’s managers decided to pay. They realised they had been cheated when they did not receive a receipt.

As news of the border incident spread, the transport ministry — which oversees the road authority — decided to conduct an internal investigation and warned local branches to take the matter seriously.

„I got the report on the AC/DC incident. Everybody on that shift was fired and the measures will also affect others who work there,” Transportation Minister Radu Berceanu said during a press conference.

Moreover, he added, four employees of the national road authority have been sacked and six others were disciplined. The border crossing chief was stripped of her managerial post and will work now as an inspector.

The Romanian blogging community voiced everything from outright condemnation to disbelief and irony [all links lead to blogs in Romanian].

„Lucky for us AC/DC ran into this trouble, otherwise we would have never found out how bribe-prone our customs officials are,” comments on the newspaper Evenimentul Zilei forum. „What happens when ordinary people are being ripped off for so many years while the authorities have been tolerating this [behaviour]?”

„I just couldn’t believe this… I told myself this is not true, that someone is exaggerating. Did it really happen?” asks , a visitor on Arhiblog.

„If anyone doubted bribery is governing us, then the doubts have been dispelled,” writes . He gives high marks, though, to the authorities for reacting promptly.

„The power of example can work here, too,” the blogger writes.

Not all are convinced. According to , „the four have been replaced by others as [thirsty] as the fired ones. I don’t think anyone expects bribery, which has been around for centuries, to disappear overnight.”

concurs. „This is the purest Romanian tradition, forget about [offering] bread and salt,” he says, referring to the local custom of welcoming guests.

A few, like , argue that the affair has been blown out of proportion. „I think AC/DC just wants some publicity at the expense of our wretched customs officials,” she writes.

(SET), a web site sponsored by the US Department of Defense in support of UN Resolution 1244, designed to provide an international audience with a portal to a broad range of information about Southeastern Europe. It highlights movement toward greater regional stability and steps governments take toward integration into European institutions. SET also focuses on developments that hinder both terrorist activity and support for terrorism in the region.

Read the article on Balkan Travelers

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