Residents of Genoa’s Valpolcevera district, which encompasses the Certosa, Rivarolo, and Bolzaneto neighbourhoods to the north of the bridge, complain they have been effectively segregated from the rest of the city since the bridge’s collapse and are cut off from vital services.
Local business owners told reporters that sales have dropped off substantially since the disaster, as access to and from the city centre has been significantly reduced by the closure of roads around the bridge.
“Since August 14th more than 50,000 people have been isolated, as though they lived behind a wall,” protest organiser Emilio Rizzo told La Stampa.
“The revenue from commercial activities has collapsed, people have lost their jobs, it is difficult even to access an emergency room,” he added.
Approximately 5,000 protesters marched from Piazza Caricamento at the old port to Genoa City Hall at Piazza De Ferrari to meet with Liguria region governor Giovanni Toti and Genoa’s mayor and newly-appointed reconstruction commissioner, Marco Bucci.
“Bucci, open the roads”, “Liberate Valpolcevera”, and “Work, Roads, Health” were some of the slogans shouted during the march, which was timed to coincide with a City Hall meeting between Italy’s Transport and Infrastructure Minister Danilo Tonninelli and EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc following the publication last week of the “Genoa decree”, which will govern the reconstruction efforts.
A delegation handed Toti a knotted handkerchief as a reminder of the promises that had been made to the city’s residents, as well as an alarm clock, as a message to the authorities to wake up to the needs of their citizens.
“ #Toninelli, NON RACCONTARCI MUSSE”: LA PROTESTA DEI GENOVESI
“NON CI SERVONO BUGIE, VOGLIAMO FATTI”: IL DURO ATTACCO AL MINISTRO IN VISITA A #Genova
https://t.co/JhHAz6bFkI #Valpolcevera pic.twitter.com/WZ7v7VzM6p
— Destra di Popolo (@destradipopolo) October 8, 2018
The demonstrators also carried with them a small model of a wall, which they say represents the metaphorical wall that separates them from the rest of the city.
Their demands include the reopening of a main road; the provision of additional health services and financial aid for business that have been affected by the disaster; and measures to allow the speedy return of displaced residents to their homes to collect their belongings, reports Corriere della Sera.
The demonstration was concluded with a minute’s silence for the 43 people who died in the disaster on August 14th.
Toninelli told the protesters he had heard their complaints and would work to improve the text of the Genoa decree, which has not yet been finalised in parliament, but asked them not to fight the decree, which he said was put together using “the heart and the head”, according to La Repubblica.
Toti, who has so far been critical of the central government’s handling of the disaster, wryly responded “Let’s hope it was also written with a brain.”