Manfredi: "Full cooperation with De Luca, but the driving force of the South is Naples"

«I saw Piazza del Plebiscito full for the Gigi D’Alessio concert and I was moved. The spirit of a great city was felt in the air, which today has rediscovered its centrality. Enough with the downward policy, we have to think big: Naples is the engine of Campania and of the whole of the South », says Mayor Gaetano Manfredi. Guest of the “Saturday of ideas” organized by Marco Salvatore on the Saturday of “Saturday of Ideas” a stone’s throw from the Naples seafront, the Professor answers the questions of the readers of Repubblica and, interviewed by the head of the Neapolitan editorial staff Ottavio Ragone, called the Palazzo San Giacomo’s agenda on waste, urban decor, transport and safety. “The approval of the budget will be a watershed,” he explains.

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He promises citizens to «be even more present among the people. Already today I go around continuously, but I do it without journalists or cameras in tow and without publishing it on social networks. We have been coming for ten years of words, I prefer to work ». At the same time, however, the mayor invites everyone to “respect the rules of civil coexistence: I am against anarchy”. And on security he asks “an effort” from the Interior Ministry: “We need more men than the police.”

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The change of pace on waste. Street cleaning and garbage collection are the themes most present in the messages sent by citizens to our newspaper. The mayor does not hide: «Even I am not satisfied, if I said that the city is clean I would be a fool. But in recent months we have done everything to improve the situation, albeit only with emergency interventions. Now we can start a new phase ». The game is complex and necessarily depends on the new resources foreseen by the budget.

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“Without the agreement with the government, the municipality would be in trouble,” he recalls. Next Friday, June 24th, the announcement for the competition will be published, which will allow to unlock the recruitments in the urban hygiene company Asìa. The new staff is expected to enter service by the end of the year. «Today the company has 650 fewer employees. There is a shortage of drivers and for this reason we cannot let out the four “street washes” vehicles we have at our disposal, moreover many street cleaners are over 60 years old. With the new funds we will also be able to purchase new vehicles ».

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The rules and controls. “If we do not respect a regime of rules, the city will never be clean,” warns Manfredi. And he mentions “the waste deposit hours, too often ignored even by street vendors and merchants, and the illegal mini-dumps even in the center”. Then he adds: «In Naples we often eat on the street, this requires everyone to take greater care of the spaces. In Piazza Carità, where a place that cooks chicken dishes recently opened, we had to double the cleaning teams because people threw the residues in the flower beds, with the risk of attracting mice ». And the controls? «We are preparing a plan, the new municipal regulation has tightened the sanctions. We will intensify the use of video surveillance. But there is also a collection problem: many do not pay the fines ».

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The node of the implants. Many citizens complain about the disproportion between the amount of the garbage tax and the service provided. “They are right, but the costs for disposal are higher because we do not have composting plants: today we pay 170 euros per ton for wet waste, otherwise it would be 50. Those who do not want the plants, know that the alternative is to pay more more. The first will be carried out in San Giovanni a Teduccio, the resolution is already in place, for the second we will use the resources of the Pnrr. As if that weren’t enough, the Ukrainian crisis has pushed up the cost of chartering ships carrying waste abroad.

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The challenge of tourism. «Tourism is an extraordinary resource, but the management of this enormous flow of visitors needs an industrial model to function. A series of factors must be considered, such as the risk of a gradual loss of identity of the historic center. This means a discipline on trade, on rents, on bonds. Next year we will be ready ».

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The gates of the city. The mayor guarantees an activity of “constant and continuous supervision” in some key places. Starting from piazza Garibaldi, from Capodichino airport and from the port area. After the controversy ignited in recent days by some statements by the commissioner Paolo Mancuso, Manfredi clarifies: «Capodichino represents a great resource for Naples. Tourists come because there is an airport. We want it to work at its best, we are working with Gesac, there is already a commitment to reduce the acoustic impact. The “alibus” will further increase with the first means on which it will be possible to pay the ticket with the ATM ».

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Gallery and squares. Palazzo San Giacomo, says the mayor, has already implemented interventions for the decor and safety of the Gallery, with 24-hour surveillance guaranteed «also in collaboration with private individuals. The Municipality will take care of the restoration of the flooring ». Particular attention is also paid to Piazza Cavour. Ad hoc interventions are planned for Piazza Dante and the Aragonese Towers.

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Streets and parks. With funds from the NRP, interventions will be carried out in the Villa Comunale, in the Virgiliano Park and at the Mausoleum of Posillipo. “The trees hadn’t been pruned for five years.” The budget will also allow for “a great plan to rearrange and pave the roads”.

The zero year of transport. Public transport is often a nightmare for Neapolitans. And as for waste, that of Palazzo San Giacomo is a handicap race: «The Anm company is in an arrangement with creditors until 2025, which means that it has been saved from bankruptcy. We are the only city where, after purchasing ten new trains for the subway, the test failed due to a flare-up on the train. In addition, we had bought the trains but the depot had not been expanded ». Nevertheless, the Municipality hopes to (finally) reverse the march: «The first goal is to get Line 6 of the metro into operation at the end of the year. We will have to use the five trains of Italia 90, we await the authorizations. It will almost be a science fiction operation, but we are confident. We will start by arriving at the Riviera di Chiaia. By the end of 2023 the terminal will be Piazza Municipio. For Line 1, the report from the Ministry is awaited. By the summer we plan to start the first of the new trains and then the others one every two months, reaching eight within a year. This will allow us to increase the frequency and reduce costs ». Road transport will also change: «With Milan and Rome we won a project on the PNRR to renew the fleet with 200 electric buses. The race is underway, the first will arrive by the end of the year ».

The university arrives in Scampia. “We are not looking only at the center, but at the whole city and the metropolitan area,” assures the mayor. And he admitted:. “True, social workers are not enough. Some have already been hired, we have stabilized more than a hundred, but we need others ». But as happened in San Giovanni a Teduccio, the recovery of the suburbs can also involve important settlements. In Scampia everything is ready for the opening of the new university of the health professions of Federico II. “We want to inaugurate it in September, with the beginning of the academic year,” says the former rector.

The appeal on safety. “There is an issue of territorial control – Manfredi argues – and an effort by the Ministry of the Interior is needed: Naples needs a larger number of members of the police and to intensify video surveillance. I am sure that Minister Luciana Lamorgese will give us a hand. We work closely with the prefect and the heads of police, carabinieri and finance, I myself have requested and obtained the calling of meetings of the public order committee. And the judiciary is doing an excellent job ». On the cameras, explains the mayor, “the maintenance is the responsibility of the Interior Ministry, the Municipality has taken care of solving the problems related to the payment of electricity utilities”.

Spend the funds of the NRP well. After his inauguration, Manfredi had denounced the risk of losing funding from the NRP due to delays in the presentation of projects. “I’m not worried anymore. Thanks to a great team work we have recovered. Now we have to spend the resources well. We will strengthen the technical-administrative structure of the Municipality through new hires, there will be more than a thousand ».

A foundation for culture. Palazzo San Giacomo studies the way to make the most of Castel dell’Ovo, the Pan and the Maschio Angioino. “The idea is that of an entirely public foundation, of the Municipality, which will allow us to manage these three sites and to reinvest in restoration and maintenance the profits obtained from entrance tickets and the rent of the rooms”.

The president De Luca and the mayor. «The question about Vincenzo De Luca is always the most popular – jokes Manfredi – our relationship is excellent and also dialectical. We work together, but we play two different roles, Enzo looks to the region, I am the mayor. Knowing that Naples is the region’s tourist hub, the engine of Campania and the South ”.

The new capital. The mayor is not satisfied with making a living. “We have to raise the bar. Naples must rediscover pride, not in a folkloric sense, but in the awareness of being central, not only in the country: the ministers of culture of the Mediterranean have just been here. In the world our city is considered a capital. Enough with the downward policy: let’s think big ».

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