An official probe was launched on Thursday on the role of the Italian motorway operator Autostrade per l’ Italia in the Morandi Bridge collapse outside Genoa; legal action is coupled with a political pledge by the government to strip the company of its motorway concession.
Following the collapse of the Morandi Bridge on Tuesday – killing at least 38 people – the political debate continues as to who is to blame. The human toll is likely to rise as there are 10-20 people still missing.
The government now focuses on the responsibility of the Matteo Renzi’s government.
The parent company of the toll operator, Atlantia, has seen its share value plunge by 25% since Tuesday.
The share continues to plunge as deputy prime minister Luigi Di Maio committed on Thursday to lifting the company’s concession over the country’s motorways. Revoking the concession means the company could demand a refund for €3,2bn in bonds guaranteed by Atalantia.
The biggest shareholder of Atalantia is the Benetton family.
Di Maio accuses the Renzi government of legally shielding the Austostrade per’ l’ Italia, extending the concession and shielding it from competition, in exchange for campaign funding support for the Democratic Party.
“Those like Luigi Di Maio who say that my government took money from Benetton or Autostrade are, technically, lying, ” Renzi told the public news agency ANSA.
From 2013 until recently, the website of the Euro-critical Five Star movement (MS5) dismissed warnings of an imminent collapse of the Genoa Morandi bridge as a ‘fairytale,’ DW reported on Thursday.
Until Wednesday, it appeared the government was considering a partial revocation of the concession and a €150 million penalty. It appears that the cost for Atlantia will be far more significant.
Autostrade claims the bridge was monitored ever quarter by world-leading experts.
The Italian government wants the company to assume the cost for rebuilding the bridge. The bridge links the port of Genoa to France and the collapse has severe consequences for regional value chains.
Deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini said the government is now focused on ensuring the company compensated the 600 people made homeless as a result of the collapse and the whole Genoa community. “We’ll only talk about all the rest afterwards,” Salvini said.