Anthony M. Quattrone
The Mayor of Naples, Luigi de Magistris, is resolutely proceeding with sweeping reforms aiming at making Naples a “normal” city. On 22 September 2011, his city government implemented a new limited traffic zone(the acronym “ZTL” appears in the press and on the traffic signs), effectively closing automotive traffic to all non-residents in the historical city center from 07:30 to 18:00 daily. The purpose of the ZTL is to preserve the historical center, cut down on carbon emissions, improve the flow of traffic, reduce noise, eliminate illegal parking, and curb the illegal utilization of traffic lanes reserved for public transportation. The full implementation of the ZTL in Naples will take effect at the end of October, when closed circuit television systems for monitoring the traffic flow in and out of the concerned areas and electronic governed barriers should be in place.
The immediate reaction by citizens was mixed. While the overwhelming majority of persons interviewed by the press appeared to support the Mayor’s decision, a small group of inhabitants and merchants of the Cavone area near Piazza Dante held a demonstration on the evening of 22 September, where some protesters overturned garbage bins and blocked bus and taxi traffic for several hours. Mayor de Magistris reacted to the protest stating that he was not going to let anyone intimidate him and that it was obvious that the decisions of the City had “touched some old accumulated mucky interests”, suggesting possible organized crime involvement in the protest. Giuseppe Narducci, the city official responsible for security, has no doubts that “the Camorra organized the raid”. According to Francesco Nicodemo, a spokesperson for the Naples provincial federation of the Democratic Party, “it is shameful that a limited traffic zone can be boycotted by a camorra boss. The honest Neapolitans, who are the overwhelming majority of the citizens, have once again had to suffer at the hands of the clans.” For Nicodemo, because organized crime is challenging the State, “the civilized part of Naples, the institutions, the police forces, the parties, the associations, and all honest citizens cannot surrender: they must be even more united”.
The day after the demonstration, a group of merchants from the Piazza Dante area condemned the violence but asked the Mayor to reconsider the implementation of the new traffic limits, stating that their businesses would be heavily damaged by the traffic limits. According to the merchants, they were set to lose about 50 percent of their business because it would be expensive and inconvenient for customers to reach the limited traffic zone for shopping. The merchants accuse the administration of not involving all stakeholders in the decision making process and that it is underestimating the damage to the local economy.
The city in proceeding with its implementation of the limited traffic zone reinforcing local police patrols on 24 hour shifts and by adding a new bus service, number 55, which makes a circular round on the periphery of the traffic limited zone ensuring that travellers can reach all areas of the limited zone and that they can easily connect with other public transportation stations and stops.