The Italian government is not afraid of criminal infiltration. We will control every euro spent on construction – assures Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini. The Italians are getting closer to starting the construction of the bridge connecting Sicily with the mainland, which has been planned for two thousand years, but as CNN notes, the famous Italian mafia may try to stop this investment.
The decree giving the green light to the construction of a bridge connecting the Italian Peninsula with Sicily was adopted by the government of Giorgia Meloni in mid-March. Two weeks later, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Infrastructure Matteo Salvini reported that the contract is worth 10 billion euros will probably be awarded to the consortium that won the original tender in 2006. Then the project was finally withdrawn due to concerns about difficulties with financing the construction.
Bridge to Sicily. The problem of the mafia
Now the Italian government hopes to find more than 10 billion euros necessary to build the bridge, but CNN points to further obstacles in the implementation of this investment. In the Sunday article, the station reminds that the famous Italian mafia – operating in the south – may stand in the way Italian Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta and Sicilian Cosa Nostra.
In the fall of 2022, after 30 years of hiding Cosa Nostra boss Matteo Messina Denaro has been arrested. From the testimonies of the informants that led to his arrest, it appeared that Denaro, like many other Italian mafia bosses, opposed the creation of a road link between Sicily and the mainland. “Crime groups prey on the island’s poverty and underdevelopment, and its isolation helps keep it that way,” explains CNN.
Although Denaro has been arrested and the Italian mafia no longer has the influence it had decades ago, concerns about its possible opposition to the construction of the bridge remain. The local think tank Nomos Center warned that the mafia could try to interfere with the construction itself. Criminal groups could try to control e.g. transporting supplies could also demand payment for “protecting” the construction site, CNN points out, citing a think tank analysis.
These fears became so widespread that Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salivini addressed them personally. He assured that the Italian government “is not afraid of criminal infiltration”. – We will be able to guarantee that the best Italian, European and global companies will be involved in the construction. We are also working on appointing supervisory bodies that will control every euro spent on construction – he stressed. Salvini promoted the project in March by showing a model of the planned bridge on Italian television.
A bridge planned since ancient Rome
The idea of connecting Sicily with mainland Italy dates back to ancient Rome. In recent decades, successive Italian governments have returned to it, but never managed to implement such an investment. The suspension bridge, over 3 kilometers long, is to be the longest structure of this type in the world. Currently, Sicily can only be reached from mainland Italy by hydrofoil or ferry.
CNN also notes that organized crime is not the only challenge facing the Italian authorities in building a bridge linking Sicily and Calabria. The geographical characteristics of the region also create problems – the waters of the Strait of Messina, over which the bridge is to run, are known for their high waves and strong currents. Designers will also have to take into account that the vicinity of the city of Messina is a very seismically sensitive area. Current plans call for the bridge to be built to withstand a magnitude 7.5 earthquake, slightly larger than the 1908 earthquake that killed more than 100,000 people in the region.
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