Organised crime may be behind problems with southern motorway

Awkward questions remain about Italian infrastructure

Italian minister for transport Maurizio Lupi admitted  yesterday that the bus, although registered as a 2008 vehicle, had in fact been built in 1995. Photograph: Getty Images

Italian minister for transport Maurizio Lupi admitted yesterday that the bus, although registered as a 2008 vehicle, had in fact been built in 1995. Photograph: Getty Images

Tue, Jul 30, 2013, 01:00


Italian minister for transport Maurizio Lupi admitted to The Irish Times yesterday that the bus, although registered as a 2008 vehicle, had in fact been built in 1995.

Was the bus simply too old to be truly roadworthy? The ongoing public prosecutor’s investigation will no doubt provide an answer to that obvious question.

In the meantime, however, awkward questions remain about Italian infrastructure, especially southern Italian infrastructure. Is it possible, as locals yesterday claimed, that the downhill flyover, 100ft above ground level, is simply too dangerous?

And is it not true that the pernicious impact of organised crime is responsible for the poor state of much southern Italian infrastructure?

These are questions which the magistrates will be sure to consider.

Analysis of the nearby Salerno to Reggio Calabria 433km-long autostrada hardly augurs well. Since 1998, when renovation work was started on this motorway, an astonishing €10.2 billion, five times more than Nasa spent on its Mars expedition, has been poured into this still unfinished roadway.

History of roadworks
As it stands, the EU has not awarded “motorway” status to the Salerno-Reggio Calabria road because it argues that something is clearly wrong with a modern road that at times has been blocked by more than 60 different roadworks over the last decade.

As for Italians, they have long accepted that it is simply better to avoid a motorway where, a lot of the time, traffic crawls along at 50km/h on a road that is reduced to one carriageway.

More than 700 different companies have worked on it over the last 20 years.

Many Italians, when they want to travel by car to Sicily, will do so by ship from Naples rather than face the horrors of the Salerno-Reggio Calabria. All of this, of course, is due to the corrosive, corrupting influence of organised crime, in particular of the Calabrian mafia, the ‘Ndrangheta.

A few years ago, investigating magistrates ordered that 60 of the 62 subcontractors working on the motorway have their contracts rescinded because they were controlled by organised crime. Is it possible that organised crime, in this case the Camorra, the Neapolitan Mafia, have something to do with the possible shortcomings of the Naples-Bari autostrada?