Saturday 17 November, 2018

J'can, like others, paid price of ignored signs of defective bridge

It has emerged that prior to last week’s disaster, experts in Italy were aware that the bridge that collapsed and crushed a Jamaican woman and her daughter and 41 other persons to death in that country, had defects.

Engineering experts have revealed that they knew that corrosion of metal cables that were supporting the Genoa highway bridge had reduced the strength of the bridge by 20 per cent, the Italian media reported Monday.

The reports suggested that the deteriorating state of the bridge established February of this year, months before the structure dramatically collapsed.

In the face of the findings, a newsmagazine called Espresso wrote that "neither the ministry nor the highway company ever considered it necessary to limit traffic, divert heavy trucks, reduce the roadway from two to one lanes, or reduce the speed" of vehicles on the key artery for the northern port city.

A large section of the Morandi Bridge collapsed on August 14 during a heavy downpour of rain, killing 43 people and forcing the evacuation of more than 600 people living in apartment buildings beneath another section of the bridge.

A Jamaican-born woman, Dawna Munroe, and her nine-year-old daughter, were among the people crushed to death.

Munroe’s father has been reportedly left devastated by the loss of his daughter, with logistical challenges said to have contributed to the distress.

Born in Sheffield, Westmoreland, Munroe and her daughter, then seven months old, moved to Italy in 2009. She met her husband while working in the Negril section of Jamaica.

"Two sisters have gone to Italy to identify the body and take charge of the situation. However, there are communication issues because of the language barrier, and it turns out that the father is the closest next of kin, so he has to sign some important documents to send to the authorities in Italy to allow the sisters to get things done like get an international death certificate and so on," a source told Loop News.

"The father lives in the USA and he is not taking the death too well. The family is tight-knit and really close," the source added.

Prosecutors investigating the bridge's collapse have said, among other things, that they are looking at possible faulty maintenance or design flaws.

On Monday prosecutor Francesco Cozzi said they are also looking for any possible weakness in the oversight of the structure. He said he could not say yet whether the presence of a moveable maintenance platform weighing several tons on the bridge's underside contributed to the collapse.

He repeated that the investigation will take time, but said "certainly it will be done in a reasonable time frame".

In its report, Espresso cited the minutes of a meeting of the Genoa public works superintendent, which included Roberto Ferrazza, an architect named to head a government commission looking into the disaster, and Antonio Brencich, an engineer who has been outspoken about the bridge's flaws.

 

Espresso reporter Fabrizio Gatti told SKY TG24 that a 20 per cent reduction in strength would not be significant in terms of a modern bridge, but on a structure with the known defects of the Morandi Bridge, it should have merited swifter and more decisive action.

"Everyone was well aware of the situation on that bridge," Gatti said.

But after that report, former Transport Minister, Graziano Delrio, told a news conference on Monday that "no one ever signaled the necessity of limiting traffic" on the bridge.

Still, bidding on a 20-million-euro (US$22.8-million) contract to reinforce two of the major supports for the bridge, including one that collapsed, was scheduled to close next month.

The Italian government, meanwhile, appeared divided on how to proceed in relation to Autostrade per l'Italia, the company that operated the section of the highway that collapsed.