Further delays in the “urgent” interventions to protect the Basilica. The contractual advance of 700 thousand Euro has never been paid, and the contractors have announced a halt to the work
By Alberto Vitucci
25 November 2021
VENEZIA. The Superintendent’s office is not paying. And this time the work is really stopping. With an email sent to the office of the Minister of Infrastructure and Consorzio Venezia Nuova, the two companies hired to realize the work to defend the Basilica di San Marco have announced a halt. Despite the meetings, signatures, contracts and promises, they have still not been paid the 700 thousand Euro contractual advance needed to pay the workers and start the work. The sum is just a drop compared to the sea of money already paid for MoSE (6.5 billion Euro). But it is lifeblood for those who have to pay for materials and labor.
“We cannot do it”, say the two owners of the companies, Kostruttiva and Renzo Rossi. “We write to inform,” we read in the email “that starting on Monday November 22 work at the site will be halted, with the exception of the normal requirements pertaining to security”. It’s yet another stop for a defensive intervention that everyone agrees is urgent, but which is not moving forward. In fact, the whole process has been mired in delays.
First there were the delays in the approval of the project, the decision postponed by the MoSE Commissioner in order to get architectural consultation from star architect Boeri. Then there was the rejection of the modified plan and the return to the original design. Finally the work was assigned, last September, right on the cusp of acqua alta season. In fact, the work has had to be suspended repeatedly due to the frequent autumn flooding. But the companies have never been paid. The first letter was sent last November 5. “We have not received any response”, say the companies.
Starting last summer there were a series of meetings and promises made. But the days, weeks and months have passed, and nothing has happened. Perhaps this can be blamed on the debts and uncertain financial situation of Consorzio Venezia Nuova, pending the ruling of the Court on the arrangement with its creditors. It can also be blamed on the lack of clarity that reigns at the Superintendent of Public Works. On the eve of Ferragosto there was the firing of Cinzia Zincone, the Superintendent in office, “guilty” of having paid a company that had already finished the work for some time. This was followed by the appointment of a regent, Fabio Riva.
This turned out to be unlawful due to the overlapping of dates. The new Ministerial Decree – which is not yet registered with the Court of Auditors – has cast doubts on the legality of all the acts the Superintendent has signed from August to today. Now comes the so-called “consultation”, that is, the internal competition to find a new leader. Zincone, suspended by the new director Ilaria Bramezza for reasons considered to be illegal, will retire on December 1.
The embarrassing situation of the stalled work at the Basilica remains unresolved. The eyes of the world are watching, concerned with the increasingly frequent flooding. The project to build a defense with sheets of glass, ready for two years, is now blocked again. It will not be ready before spring, and therefore the Basilica will be exposed to the salt water floods for another winter. “Nobody answers us”, accuse the businesses, “and we cannot sustain the fixed costs of the jobsite and paying our workers”. And so the work is again at a standstill, despite the commissioners and the money the government has allocated.
-Source: La Nuova di Venezia e Mestre