Thousands protest in Rome over city’s ‘degradation’

Rome, Oct 28 : Thousands of people staged a sit-in overlooking Rome’s ancient forum to protest what they call the Italian capital city’s degradation under the populist Five Star Movement.

Organisers estimated 22,000 people attended the peaceful protest on Saturday.

The idea for the demonstration sparked when a city bus caught fire last May, Emma Amiconi, one of six organisers of “Roma Dice Basta”, or “Rome Says Enough”, told CNN.

“Citizens are exasperated with daily life,” she said.

The organisers blame Virginia Raggi, the first female mayor of Rome and a Five Star representative, saying 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.

Lorenzo Laurenti, a biologist attending the demonstration, held a poster showing pictures of some of the degradation in central Rome.

“Rome is in the worst condition I have ever seen in my life in the two last years,” he told CNN.

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.

Roads with potholes have been fatal, especially when rainwater collects on the streets because the storm sewers have not been cleaned.

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