'Rome says enough!'
Romans are not in the least amused by the city's degradation under the populist government's Star Movement. Citizens have naturally staged protests and sit-in demonstrations. Police have not confirmed an official number. The idea for demonstrations was sparked when a city bus caught fire last May, said Emma Amiconi, one of six organisers of "Roma Dice Basta," or Rome Says Enough." Citizens are exasperated with daily life," she said. Organizers blame Virginia Raggi, the first female mayor of Rome and the ruling Five Star representative. They argue that the movement lacks leadership experience to run a city as complex as Rome. "We hear daily lies from the mayor that everything is fine, that they are working on fixing the problems of previous city administrations. But the truth is that they have no experience," said Amiconi. Among the biggest problems is sporadic garbage collection that has encouraged rats, seagulls and even wild boars to feed on the festering mess. "Rome is in the worst condition I have ever seen in my life." according to a demonstrator, referring to the period of time the Five Star Movement has been in power. "This is the Eternal City, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, so we have to cure, to love the city. The city is not loved by this administration. This is hate."
Public transportation also poses a major problem. Some 42 per cent of the city's buses and trams are out of service because of maintenance needs or age, says the association Mobilitiamo Roma, which has organised a referendum on privatising the public transportation company. These problems lead to a lack of service, long waits at bus stops and frequent strikes by angry drivers who are also fed up with the administration. But serious issues exist with infrastructure, as well. Last week, 24 Russian soccer fans in Rome for a match were injured when an escalator down into a central subway station rapidly sped up and then collapsed. Rome's Public Prosecutor's Office is investigating the incident. A representative from ATAC, Rome's public transport company, said that "all maintenance checks in the escalator were carried out regularly and the results were in accordance with the norms." Roads with potholes have been fatal, especially when rainwater collects on the streets because the storm sewers have not been cleaned. Last summer, after a young woman died due to a pothole, a citizen group started painting fluorescent green and yellow circles around deep holes to warn drivers. "Rome does not belong to the Romans, but to all of humanity," Amiconi said."We must take care of it."