Da The Times del 21/12/2004
Originale su http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-1410725,00.html

In Sicily, a motorway is not built in a day

di Richard Owen

Rome - A SICILIAN motorway from Palermo to Messina, contruction of which began in 1969, will finally be inaugurated today by Silvio Berlusconi.

At 113 miles (182km), that represents progress of about three miles a year. The delay is blamed partly on the alleged siphoning-off of funds and materials by the Mafia.

The road has cost €730 million (£500 million), partly funded by the European Investment Bank. For years it has been shown as a dotted line on Italian maps.

The news magazine Panorama said: “Habemus autostrada” (we have a motorway) — an ironic reference to the Latin formula used for the eventual election of a Pope. The motorway is part of a planned north-south European motorway network dubbed Corridor One, linking Palermo and Berlin.

But even when it is opened today only one carriageway will be usable because of a waterlogged tunnel, with cars and lorries able to travel only from Palermo to Messina.

Claudio Fava, a centre-left Euro MP from Sicily, said that the project had been subject to “countless delays”, partly because of the difficult Sicilian coastal terrain. Half of the last 19 miles runs through 16 tunnels and over 14 viaducts. But Signor Fava said that the delays were also due to faulty construction, legal challenges and judicial inquiries into alleged Mafia “infiltration” of construction firms.

“I see no reason to celebrate the inauguration of a motorway after 35 years when in reality it is only half-open,” he said. “Since it came to power in 2001 the Berlusconi Government has promised Sicilians new dams, motorways, ports and airports. There is no trace of any of them.”

Government television advertisements lauding the new motorway feature a symbolic handshake between Eugenio Corini, captain of Palermo football club, and Alessandro Parisi, captain of the rival Messina team.

Gianfranco Micciché, Deputy Minister for Economic Affairs and head of the Sicilian branch of Forza Italia, Signor Berlusconi’s party, said that Sicilians had come to think of the project as “a joke”.

“But myth has become reality,” Signor Micciché said. “We thought even our children would never live to see it finished.”

He said that the last 25 miles had been completed over the past three years, with construction workers “toiling day and night”.

Together with the planned construction of a giant bridge over the Strait of Messina linking Sicily with the mainland for the first time, the motorway would transform Sicily into “the new California”, he said. But the Left said that although the Mafia had been driven underground by a crackdown on organised crime over the past decade, it continued to flourish and was suspected of involvement in both the motorway and the Messina bridge.

Piero Grasso, the chief prosecutor in Palermo, said that there was “not a single public construction project in Sicily in which the influence of Cosa Nostra is not felt”.

Last week prosecutors said that Salvatore Cuffaro, president of the Sicilian region — who will cut the tape today with the Italian Prime Minister — was under investigation for alleged links with the Mafia, a charge he denies.

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Koinè Nuove Edizioni, 2004
 
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