Thus the Region falls to pieces

Thus the Region falls to pieces
Thus the Region falls to pieces

Almost nothing works: indeed, the scaffolding on which the Sicilian Region is supported – healthcare, transport, waste – risks collapsing. The weekend was marked by an anomaly, better defined as an ’emergency’, which forced AST to make a series of huge cuts to guarantee the transport of several thousand migrants from Lampedusa. The old and ramshackle buses of the company controlled by the Region, at least, have been of some use, given that for some months they have no longer been able to guarantee the right to mobility of residents and tourists. Road transport, where possible, is worse off than air and rail transport, except that it is the Region that shells out the money and therefore loses out.

Ast is in good condition disastrous from a financial point of view – so much so as to induce councilor Aricò to open a tender for the assignment of extra-urban journeys to private individuals – and the promised interventions were never implemented, as reported by the M5s deputy, Stefania Campo: ” One wonders what happened to the 45 million PON funds that we had placed in the budget to allow Ast to buy new vehicles. This is the real issue, due to heavy debts in recent years the company has not equipped itself with new and sufficient means to cover the service, this in fact puts the traveler constantly at risk, subject to an avalanche of inconveniences and poor services” . Yes, because “not a day goes by without Ast leaving its travelers stranded. From buses that break down, to trips canceled without warning, delays of hours at stops without any benches including the main stop on the island, that of Palermo. A journey with an Ast bus is an odyssey with macroscopic inefficiencies.”

To cover up the sensational defects of the service, Aricò invented the transport of migrants: thirty buses that transferred the refugees from Porto Empedocle to the countries of Northern Italy (we don’t dare imagine the travel conditions): “We are aware of the inconveniences that this provision may cause on some routes of extra-urban transport – said Aricò – but we ask Sicilians to have understanding because the island is currently in a serious state of emergency”. The secretary of the Democratic Party, Anthony Barbagallo, had no understanding: “It is unacceptable to use the migrant emergency to support the unjustifiable. AST, controlled by the Region, cancels trips daily, leaving students, workers and commuters stranded. It is the same company that in the middle of summer, with the Fontanarossa airport closed after the fire. canceled 2500 trips in a month. I also find it indelicate, because superfluous, to underline the human and legal aspect of such an action. But it highlights the lack of planning and the lack of control over Ast which has an inadequate fleet of vehicles for extra-urban services and it is certainly not possible to notice this only in the event of a necessary humanitarian and emergency intervention”.

On August 9th Aricò explained of wanting to transform Ast, until now under the total control of the Region, into an in-house providing company: it is believed, explained the councilor, that “it represents the best possible solution to ensure the continuity of Ast’s corporate activity and to continue to ensure services to the territory”. The advertised objective is “to insert or separate the extra-Uban transport routes within Ast” in the soon-to-be-published notice. That is, opening up to private individuals.

Another caravan mowed down from delays – in payments to working companies – is the Cas, the Sicilian Autostrade Consortium. For months it has induced Cosedil, which is proceeding with the completion of the Ispica-Modica lot along the Siracusa-Gela road, to stop the construction sites. On the eve of the ultimatum set for September 7th, however, the progress of the works from last March-April was liquidated, so testing resumed. With difficulty. The opening of the motorway section should have taken place last spring, then everything was postponed to the summer, perhaps we will talk about it at the end of the year (in the meantime the politicians have received the worst insults for having announced and then retracted the inauguration). Considering Palermo-Messina and Catania-Messina, other arteries under the Consortium’s jurisdiction, 34 million in debt has accumulated.

But let’s turn the page. Healthcare. In recent days, councilor Volo and the director of strategic planning, Salvatore Iacolino, gathered the commissioners of the ASP and hospital companies in Palermo to take stock of the elimination of waiting lists. The Region has made 48 million available, half of which is intended for affiliated private facilities, to speed up the provision of services: from hospitalizations to specialist visits. So far the theory. Because the practice is disarming. While waiting to clear the lists of “duplicates” – in July 39,500 hospitalizations and 241 thousand outpatient services were estimated to be disposed of for the three-year period 2020-2022, in the latest monitoring of 8 September they dropped to 32,355 and 81,632 respectively – it is coming out a dark picture. According to Repubblica, which had the opportunity to consult the documents, “there are children who have been waiting for more than two years for the call from the Di Cristina hospital in Palermo for a simple phimosis or herniated disc operation, adults who have been waiting at the Civico since 2020 for the removal of a benign prostate tumor, patients who for three years have had to perform a tonsil operation at Villa Sofia-Cervello or a spinal operation at the Giaccone polyclinic”. The report must be continuously updated with astonishing data: it takes six months for a breast examination in Catania, nine for an endocrinological check-up in Palermo, 170 days for a CT scan of the abdomen in Messina.

These numbers and these expectations they cancel the rest. They erase the atavistic questions – why didn’t the “cleaning up” of the lists start sooner? – and cancel future intentions. That is, guaranteeing the disbursement of arrears. A necessary step that public health cannot take alone. Not under current conditions, where ‘peripheral’ hospitals struggle to recruit medical managers and, more and more often, authentic companies are needed – the use of additional services, retired doctors, foreigners, agreements with private individuals – to guarantee coverage of some services that might otherwise close. Furthermore, the gap is linked to instrumentation. “Oncology patients are also suffering – reports Repubblica -. Today, in Palermo, it is almost impossible to book a PET scan to diagnose the presence of tumor cells. Both the one at the Polyclinic and the one at Villa Sofia are out of order.” While the deputy from the South calls the North, Ismaele La Vardera, reported a few days ago that an MRI purchased by the ASP of Palermo in 2020 is still locked up in a basement.

In this scaffolding (general) which continues to creak, waste should not be forgotten. There is less talk about it because the excess ones, on board the compactors, are transferred to the rest of Italy or abroad (with exorbitant costs for the Municipalities and, in turn, for the citizens). Sicilian landfills are saturated, some have closed their doors and politics has never replaced them. He only made vague speeches about waste-to-energy plants, but since 2021 – when Musumeci actually announced two – nothing has happened. SI Energy srl had started all the procedures to obtain the required environmental authorizations in 2020. As Live Sicilia reconstructs, the project is stopped until 14 July 2022 when the services conference postponed everything until the opinion of the CTS, the specialist technical commission now directed by Gaetano Armao, arrived. The waste-to-energy plant should be built on an area of ​​67 thousand square meters in Catania and be able to treat 550 thousand tons of waste per year. In 2021 the Region’s CTS issued an intermediate opinion full of critical issues which was followed, in 2022, by that of the Metropolitan City of Catania. The technicians of the former province had spoken of “cumulative environmental impacts”.

Furthermore, the risk has been established, that to allow the survival of the waste-to-energy plant the quantity of rubbish produced by the reference area was not enough, and that more was needed. Where to get it? A question which is the symptom of a confusion that has never been resolved, and which even the new Energy Councilor had highlighted: “We need to practically establish how we need to identify the contribution flows – Di Mauro explained to Ars – therefore establish the percentage and what which serves in the Sicilian territory. From there comes not only the numbers of waste-to-energy plants, but also the quantities of product that the waste-to-energy plants must absorb”. According to the councilor, it is a question of “beginning to understand exactly the waste phenomenon in Sicily. There is another fact – added the councilor – which is quite strange: waste separation increases, but in reality undifferentiated waste practically remains the same”. In the meantime, perhaps unaware of all the critical issues raised (including the need for a new “waste plan”), Schifani went ahead and participated in summits. In the last one, with the minister Pichetto Fratin, he would have obtained the necessary reassurances: “He will give us the commissioner powers that will allow us to build two waste-to-energy plants in Sicily. Waste will become a resource and produce energy.” But was it all that easy? Hurray.

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