Growing rubbish problem leads to rat emergency in Rome.
Rome's mayor Virginia Raggi has promised stiff penalties for those caught dumping rubbish illegally around Rome, as the capital grapples with the mounting problem of rubbish and rats on the streets.
The city's refuse collection agency AMA Roma is at loggerheads with its trade unions whose workers are refusing a temporary request to work longer shifts, despite the offer of overtime, to deal with the current crisis.
The outgoing AMA chief Daniele Fortini has admitted that the city is producing 500 tons of rubbish more each day than the company can cope with, due to processing plants being overwhelmed with garbage. Fortini says the plants should be in operation around the clock but that management has so far been unable to reach an agreement with the unions.
Fortini made his remarks following a recent unannounced visit by Raggi to the AMA recycling plant at Rocca Cencia, which deals with waste from the east of the capital. The visit, which Raggi streamed live on Facebook, revealed that the recently-opened plant was only processing four tons of rubbish per day despite being designed to deal with 200 tons.
Opposition politicians described the visit as “propaganda” while particularly harsh criticism was reserved for Rome's new environment councillor Paola Muraro, who accompanied Raggi to Rocca Cencia, and who as a former consultant to AMA – it is alleged – personally oversaw the authorisations of the various stages of the plant's development.
On 15 July Muraro revealed that AMA's free collection of bulky waste service has been suspended for weeks, due to a non-renewal of the contract. Muraro has disclosed that she only became aware of the suspended service after consulting the AMA website. Fortini says the collection service will resume on 18 July but in the meantime it has led to old furniture and bulky electrical appliances being dumped illegally across the city.
The rubbish crisis has also led to a growing rat problem over the past few weeks. Videos have circulated of children playing a game called "count the rats" in the city's suburbs, while it has emerged that in recent days a woman was attacked by a rat after sitting on a bench, during the daytime, at Piazza S. Cosimato in Trastevere.