Opposition to Messina Straits bridge intensifies with public meetings

 MESSINA, Sicily - Hundreds of Sicilians and trade unionists opposed to the centre-right Government's plans to start building a bridge over the Strait of Messina staged a 'No Ponte' demonstration in this Sicilian port city last weekend, arguing that the funds would be better used to improve existing infrastructure on the island rather than a grandiose on-again off-again project.

 "The bridge… is an idea that has been cradled for decades, the strength of which lies in the fact that it has never been realised. If it were, perhaps we would see the monster's face and be afraid of it,” said Michele Ainis, constitutionalist and columnist, in the village of Torre Faro where the proposed bridge would be built.

 After the conference attended by the Minister for Infrastructure, Matteo Salvini, on Thursday in Palermo where he stressed that the bridge would be “an anti-mafia measure,” more than 300 anti-bridge protesters gathered in a square for the first public meeting, as reported by Il Fatto Quotidiano.

 After the announcements made by Salvini, who relaunched the bridge project by resurrecting “Societa del Stretto di Messina,” which had been in liquidation for years, the “No Ponte” network has started up again. Attending the meeting were also the members of the groups: Spazio No Ponte, No Ponte Capo Peloro and Invece del Ponte, among others.

 The Messina CGIL (Italian General Confederation of Labour) also took part: “We don't think it's necessary work,” said Pietro Patti, provincial secretary of the CGIL, who spoke during the public assembly against the Strait Bridge.

 “We need infrastructures that connect the whole of Sicily, especially in the inland areas, just think that Messina has 108 municipalities, most of which are on the Nebrodi, where many towns are poorly connected,” Patti noted.

 "We must assume the responsibility of opposing this project…against a government that hates the poor, hates the south and only aims to legitimise abuse and bullying of people and territories,' said  Daniele David, provincial secretary of Fiom.

 The movement against the bridge is not to be seen as the umpteenth “no”, according to Elio Conti Nibali, of the Committee Instead of the Bridge: “Saying no to the useless bridge means saying yes to everything that is really useful for the Strait area. We demand to have the resources for the sustainable development of our territories,... enough with the propaganda, let us tell the truth and expose the bridge deception.”

 This is only the very first public meeting - warn the “No Ponte” people - which will be followed by others in view of a demonstration in June. In August, instead, a national campaign and demonstration are planned.