Delays persist as Expo 2015 opens

Photo: Expo2015 Facebook

MILAN- Expo 2015 in Milan opened Friday, with lingering delays raising concern about the public response to the universal project. 

 Time is rushing by for Expo 2015. As anticipated, throughout last month, the exhibition attracted several major criticisms concerning a lack of internal and external security, unfulfilled promises, technical delays on infrastructure and stinging extra expenses, such as the use of costly patches to cover unfinished areas. Whilst those predicting Expo 2015 to be a failure may be wide of the mark, it is reasonable to think that public opinion could be affected by these problems.

 “One year ago, when the scandals came out, it looked like an impossible mission. But today, it is with great satisfaction that we can say that we did it and the pavilions are beautiful” tweeted Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, enthusiastically. He was indeed correct. Expo 2015 will open on Friday and many of the pavilions are going to be ready but many more have not yet been completed and it is unlikely that certain pavilions will be completed within the next week.  

 Out of 145 countries’ pavilions, the Italian project will be one of those experiencing delays in the opening of the auditorium, office and the area reserved for the Italian Industrial Federation - the so called Confindustria - as well as the area representing the Federation of Italian Farmers - Coldiretti -.

 Although there were doubts about the Russian and Turkish pavilions, delegations confirmed today that they would be ready by Thursday together with France’s project and many others, which have already been completed.

 On the pavilion ‘black list’ for those, which are works in progress, also lays Nepal’s project. However, in this unique case, there can be no predictions on whether it will be finished, as 11 out of 14 of its workers have family members who were victims in the recent, devastating earthquake.

 Aside from the understandable delays with Nepal’s pavilion and general delays on Italy’s offering, all 145 pavilions should be ‘almost’ completed by Friday. However, for a large number of constructions there will still be minor details to attend to over the coming weeks.

 Without doubt, the situation has changed compared to the beginning of April, but calling Expo 2015 a great success seems far too convenient at this stage. According to the latest figures on Expo’s website, 20 percent of the overall buildings are finished, with another six percent currently being trialled. One percent of constructions have been suspended and 71 percent are still works in progress. These figures come before we consider that the two main boulevards crossing the Expo site, respectively ‘il Decumano’ and ‘il Cardo,’ still need to be paved with asphalt.

 In addition, Expo’s security was placed under scrutiny after ‘Il Corriere della Sera’ revealed that personnel were entering the premises from a second unchecked entrance and eluding controls. According to Unions, although Expo will comprise 162 turnstiles, 108 x-ray machines, 500 cameras and more that 3000 security forces, since February (the moment when there became a rush to complete the constructions) workers have not been required to have photos on their identification badges, nor to punch in or out.

 Unions have also stated that those workers entering from the unchecked entrance are underpaid and without contracts as they work more than the average length of shift. One positive element according to unions is however, that since the beginning of works at Expo, there have been 111 accidents on site. Of these incidents, 93 occurred before February 25 (the date when the rush began) so this can be considered an achievement in itself.

 For the project as a whole, criticisms and congratulations will not be able to replace judgement. Indeed, the reality of Expo is here, but it appears that there is a little way to go before it’s finally completed. Ultimately, only public opinion will decide whether or not there will be a successful future for Expo 2015. Certainly, we all hope that there will.