Moto Ondoso Worsening in Venice, with Few Patrols and Scarce Control

Policing the Tessera canal: only three agents and one boat. Agostini: “With the forces we have available we cannot do more”

By Eugenio Pendolini

20 December 2022

There is only one boat and three agents for the lagoon police in the Tessera canal, run by the ex-Magistrato alle Acque. Yes, precisely the route that connects Venice to the Marco Polo airport, which not by chance many Venetians call a genuine water highway.

There are speed limits in place, but they are routinely ignored. Here the sandbanks are visibly shrinking due to the erosion that is distorting the face and the function of the lagoon.

Three Patrols per Week

And the patrols? There are some, but there are only three a week: not nearly enough, clearly, in a canal where each day hundreds of boats speed through. However, this is the factual reality that emerged during the meeting of the second conciliar commission yesterday, led by Francesco Zingarlini, along with Commander Marco Agostini, during which details were shared about the organization of the navigation services provided by the local police.

Overlapping Jurisdictions

The fact that to this day control of the lagoon remains a puzzle to be solved is demonstrated by the overlapping jurisdictions over the waters of the lagoon: interior canals are the responsibility of the City, the Giudecca Canal is overseen by the Capitaneria di Porto, and the Tessera Canal by the ex-Magistrato alle Acque. Each area has different characteristics, but all of them share the fragility of the lagoon, and the still unsolved and worsening problem of moto ondoso.

The Local Police Forces

At present, Commander Agostini explained, the navigation sector of the local police numbers 37 people, of which 4 are officials and 33 are agents. This is a “historic high”, according to Agostini. In addition, there are 17 boats, plus 5 hybrids just commissioned that will be put in service in the coming years. Their activity covers the interior canals and patrols of the bacino San Marco, the Canal Grande, Fondamente Nuove and Sant’Elena.

“Considering the shift rotations, we have fewer than ten people in the water at any given time” said councilor Marco Gasparinetti (Terra e Acqua). In fact, of the 17 boats equipped for assignment by the local police commander, 3 or 4 are always parked in the shop for maintenance. “There should be a greater number of personnel”, said Agostini. “With the forces we have we cannot do more”.

Telelasers in the Canals

Another patrol activity involves the internal canals, those currently the focus of various reports by the citizens concerning moto ondoso and smog. To cite a few examples: rio Novo, rio di Noale, rio di Cannaregio, rio dei Greci.

“Here the patrols are alternated with telelasers”, admitted Agostini, “which, however, function more as prevention than repression. Instead there are other canals that are not under our jurisdiction, such as Tessera, where there is a very high level of moto ondoso. We try to support the ex-Magistrato alle Acque, which has only one boat and seven operators”.

Lagoon Police Nowhere to be Found

That’s a small number. Too small, even according to councilor Francesca Rogliani (Lista Brugnaro Sindaco), who asked for clarification from the ex-Magistrato alle Acque: “Because they perform only three patrols a week though they call themselves the lagoon police”.

On this point, councilor Deborah Onisto (Forza Italia), president of the fourth commission which for months has been addressing the issue of moto ondoso in the city, made it known that she had already requested a hearing with the managers of the lagoon police run by the ex-Magistrato, but to date had still not received news of any reply: “We will ask again”.

Another crucial point, in the background, is that of the shortage of personnel, as much for the navigation sector as more generally for the other sectors of the local police, which at present number 448 employees in total, a number judged to be insufficient. “We hired 50 people in 2022”, was the response from the security assessor, Elisabetta Pesce, “now a new hiring round is underway for between 35 and 50 new people, which will allow us to supplement the workforce”.

Source: La Nuova di Venezia e Mestre

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