Vatican: DGI : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

From the (London) Financial Times, 9 January 1999. Romans fear millennium chaos It is being billed as one of the highlights of Pope John Paul's reign, a year-long celebration of 2,000 years of Christendom. But 318 days before Rome's Jubilee year celebrations begin, both the Vatican and the Italian government are being warned that the event could be a logistical disaster. Four years ago, the Pope announced that he wished to turn the year 2000 into a Giubileo, a rare "Holy Year," in which Roman Catholic pilgrims are invited to travel to Rome to strengthen their faith and have their sins remitted. The Italian government is expecting 25m additional visitors to visit Rome in 2000 to attend a variety of religious events and concerts. This is a significant increase on the 10m tourists who visit Rome annually. The Italian capital, with a population of little more than 3m and a poor level of public administration, is far from equipped for a human influx on this scale. After the Pope's announcement, the Italian government voted some L3,500bn ($2bn, 2.25bn) for infrastructure projects such as transport links and building renovation. But the contribution from the Vatican has been more modest - Italian officials say they think it has spent "between L100bn and L200bn" on the event. One official said: "The Holy See has been allowed to dictate the scale of this very ambitious event, passing the burden on to the Italian government to make sure that it works." Italian newspapers are already forecasting another Italian-style botch-up. Government ministers and Francesco Rutelli, Rome's mayor, say the doom-mongers are revelling in the typical national sport of self-demotion. There is no doubt that government offices have been slow to get construction projects under way, amid continual infighting and bureaucratic delays. And as they weave their way around the roadworks, many Romans feel an increasing antipathy towards an event that looks set to make life in Rome rather uncomfortable. "Only at the start of 1997 did funds for the Jubilee come on stream and only at the start of 1998 did the first construction sites actually open," admits one of the most senior officials co-ordinating the project. All these projects have a deadline of December 24. The Pope is due to inaugurate the Jubilee by opening the Holy Door of St Peter's on Christmas Eve. It is still far from clear how many will be completed in time. Building renovation, helped by private sector sponsorship, is progressing well. Considerable progress is being made cleaning up the front of St Peter's, the Palazzo Venezia, the main basilicas and a host number of famous landmarks. But as officials admit, this kind of renovation is comparatively easy. The far bigger worry lies with the logistics of moving some thousands of pilgrims around Rome each day. Two projects are vital for this. Via Della Conciliazione, the great avenue in front of Vatican Square, must be closed to vehicles to accommodate the expected flood of pilgrims. This means a large underpass has to be built alongside the Tiber river if normal traffic is to be diverted. A metro line must also be built out to the north of the city to create a "park-and-ride" link so that pilgrims' buses stay out of the city centre. Both projects ought to be completed within the deadline, but there have been significant delays already. "We cannot afford one more delay of any kind or we will miss the deadlines," said an official. There are other concerns. Rome has too little accommodation to house a pilgrimage on this scale. Officials are seeking another 7,000 beds a night. The organisers must find a further 8,000 police for duty in the capital and some 50,000 young volunteers to give assistance. The highlight of the year, a three-day youth festival for 2m young people in August, is one of the biggest headaches (15,000 portable lavatories must be found, for instance.) An official says he has had "too little time to plan an event on this scale".

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-- Old Git (, February 09, 1999


try #1

-- Chuck, night driver (, February 09, 1999.

try # 2

-- Chuck, night driver (, February 09, 1999.


-- Chuck, night driver (, February 09, 1999.


I quit

Someone else?

-- Chuck, night driver (, February 09, 1999.

-- x (x@x.x), February 09, 1999.

Sounds like bread and circuses again for the unwashed masses.

-- dinosaur (, February 09, 1999.

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