Rome's 'decay' prompts council reshuffle

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Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino is reshuffling his council over the city's 'decay'.Photo: Fabrizio Lonzini
15:59 CEST+02:00
Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino said he would reshuffle his council executive amid mounting pressure - from home and abroad - over the Italian capital's decay.

From rats scurrying around the Trevi Fountain and chronic transport problems to rubbish-strewn streets and corruption, the capital’s decline has reached boiling point for its dwellers – and an embarrassing level for the Eternal City’s leaders.

The Italian media has lamented Rome’s troubles for some time, but a series of high-profile setbacks, plus an article in The New York Times last Wednesday about the ancient city’s “degradation”, has pushed Marino into action.

On Friday, he said he would “fix” the city’s dysfunctional transport system, including changing the board of directors at Atac, the company responsible for public transport, and firing those “responsible for the inefficiencies”.

The announcement came a day after a crowded metro train drove between two stops with the doors wide open, and a week after a five-year-old boy was killed when he fell into a lift shaft at a Rome metro station.

Now Marino said he would reshuffle his executive council on Tuesday, including asking Giudio Improta, his transportation councillor, to step down, Ansa reported.

“An immediate change of direction is needed,” Ignazio said.

Residents have faced persistent transport misery in recent weeks, with impromptu strikes and roadworks disrupting bus and tram services.

Meanwhile, the metro’s Line A has been stopping at 9.30pm each night since May due to maintenance work and there's been major disruption at Fiumicino airport since a fire at terminal three, which handles international flights, in early May.

"The heat makes all the problems - the rubbish, the transport - a lot worse," Manuella, a Rome resident who depends on the metro and buses to get to work, told The Local.

"Tempers are more frayed - but this decline has been going on for years and, with all our worries over the economy, it's reached boiling point." 

Valeria Fedeli, the Senate’s deputy speaker, said Marino was running out of time to take serious measures to clean-up the city.

"It is unclear why the Italian capital can’t be as clean as other European capitals," Fedeli, a member of Marino's centre-left Democratic Party, was quoted by Ansa as saying.

"Marino has 24 hours to present a team and decide the programme quickly to solve Rome's problems."

Marino, who was elected in 2013, has also been hit by the fall-out of the so-called 'Mafia capital' corruption scandal.

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Giorgio, who grew up in the capital, said that while the city is "badly managed" and people at the top need to change, so does the mindset among residents.

"The problem with Romans, is that they only give something back if they receive it," he told The Local.

"Yes, the politics and management are a shambles - but people living here also need to contribute to make it better.

"All the time you see dog owners leaving their pet's excrement on the street, or people throwing cigarette ends on the street. People need to care more - only then will things start to change."

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