July 11, 2020 - 13:52 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Italy has successfully conducted the first full test of Venice’s flood defence system, a much-delayed project designed in 1984 but still incomplete a decade after it was due to come into service, The Guardian reports.
Amid much fanfare, the Italian prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, activated the 78 mobile barriers of the Mose dam on Friday. “We’re here for a test, not a parade,” Conte, who was greeted in Venice by activists who have long protested against the project, told reporters. “The government wants to check the progress of the work.”
The Italian government pledged to finish the €6bn (£5.4bn) project, which has been dogged by delays and a corruption scandal since work began in 2003, after Venice experienced its worst flood since 1966 in November last year. The flood killed two people and caused an estimated €1bn worth of damage to monuments, businesses and homes.
The huge yellow floodgates immediately started to work after being activated on Friday, rising simultaneously to separate the Venetian lagoon from the sea. More tests will be carried out over the coming months and the barrier will not be fully functional until the end of 2021.
Conte acknowledged corruption had blighted the project but urged everyone move forward. “It’s right to have doubts and debate,” he said. “But I say to everyone, including those protesting, citizens and intellectuals – let’s focus on finishing Mose. For the final stretch, we assume responsibility and with further financial effort it will be completed, and we hope that it will work.”
Venetians have mixed feelings towards the project, with some considering it to be essential for protecting the city and others saying it has damaged the fragile lagoon. Those against the project argue that work done so far has exacerbated the flooding.