Venice mayor vows flood barrier ‘will be ready to use in six months’

Venice mayor vows flood barrier 'will be ready to use in six months'
Part of the Mose flood barrier being tested in Venice's lagoon in 2013. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP
The controversial Mose flood barrier system “will be able to function” in emergency situations within six months, Venice city mayor Luigi Brugnaro told local media on Tuesday.

The record floods the city suffered in November revived residents' anger over the fact that the long-delayed, scandal-hit project is still not up and running.

“Within six months all the Mose sluice gates will be able to function for emergencies,” Brugnaro said, after a meeting with other officials on safeguarding the city against flooding.

READ ALSO: What happened to Venice's planned flood barriers?

He added that the project's commissioner will soon announce “the schedule for the completion of the work”.

The project began in 1991 and has so far cost upwards of 5.5 billion euros.

Since construction work started in 2003, the expected completion date has been repeatedly pushed back. The latest official estimates now say the barrier system will be ready to use by the end of 2021.

The enormous yellow barriers, which lie below the water's surface, are designed to be raised during the exceptionally high tides which occur without fail several times a year in Venice.

Venice locals protesting the Mose system and Mayor Brugnaro in November 2019. Photo: AFP

After the city was hit by the worst flooding in half a century in November, Venice residents vented their anger at local politicians, blaming corruption for the delays to the planned barrier system.

READ ALSO: Venetians protest cruise ships and corruption after historic flooding

The Mose project has been controversial from the beginning, and opinion remains divided over whether it will really be able to prevent the city from flooding.

While citizens have long worried about the astronomically high cost of construction, NGOs, engineering firms, academics and the municipality of Venice itself have long questioned the project's viability and the barrier's stability in the face of rising sea levels.

The project has been plagued by technical problems, and recently, existing parts of the system were found to be rusting and leaking after just ten years underwater.

The most recent severe flooding in Venice in November 2019. Photo: AFP


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