Favelas sprout up amid neglect of Tiber

Ancient Cloaca Maxima used as shelter

(By Emanuela De Crescenzo).
    (ANSA) - Rome, May 16 - While a political battle rages in the Italian capital between the Democratic Party (PD) and the anti-establishment M5S to remove trash littering the city's parks and streets, little attention seems to be given to the state of degradation on the banks of the Tiber River. Hidden in the bushes and visible only by sailing down the river itself, the homeless and migrants live in unauthorized settlements on the banks of the river amid filth and abandonment. In the heart of the city between the iron bridge named Ponte dell'Industria and the Ponte della Scienza, a group of homeless people have set up tents and tables. Nearby are two rubbish mounds, one of which contains many bags and wallets as well as bottles, clothing and leftovers, while many remnants of copper wire are in the other. In the section of the river between the former slaughterhouse and Piazza dell'Emporio there is a similar scene and another settlement amid mounds of rubbish, clothes hanging outside drying and people playing cards. Within the Cloaca Maxima itself, which was built in ancient Rome to drain local marshes and remove the waste of Rome into the Tiber and is still working, a mini-apartment has been built.
    Over the past 30 years, dozens of projects for the Tiber have been shelved. A few days ago, the issue was brought up again by M5S representative Angelo Diario, who wrote on Facebook that "could you imagine that until the mid-20th century, Romans enjoyed the city's river as a place to relax and do sports in the open air?" adding that sport could become a driving force to get the city back on its feet. A project is underway involving various associations and Rome Councillor for Sports, Youth Policies and Major Events Daniela Frongia to rehabilitate the banks of the Tiber, he stressed, for this very purpose. On April 3, Frongia and several M5S councillors rafted down the river to look at the possibility of using the various sections for sports purposes and to assess the conditions of the banks. In January, the Lazio region announced a bidding process for a three-year contact worth 2.13 million euros for ordinary and extraordinary maintenance of the section between Castel Giubileo and Tiber Island. Six bids were received by February 28 and the regional government is currently assessing them. The winner will have to cut the bushes and other plants, clean the area, remove and treat solid waste and other material transported down the river during times of high water levels and remove tree trunks and branches. Rehabilitation of the unauthorized settlements and drainage of the riverbed are not included in the contract, as they are not under the regional authorities' remit.