The mayor of the southern Italian island of Lampedusa says that boats used by migrants can become a danger to the community and the environment, after they have been abandoned on the island.
The mayor of the islands of Lampedusa and Linosa, Totò Martello, is calling on the Italian national government to intervene "as soon as possible to remove abandoned boats on Lampedusa."
He said due to the poor weather and rough seas in recent days, the boats have become "a danger for the community, for infrastructure, and for the environment."
Martello said boats that had been moored at the Favaloro pier have been at the mercy of the waves inside the port, "risking above all damaging other boats and our fishing boats."
Lampedusa is located much closer to northern African -- Tunisia and Libya in particular -- than the rest of Italy. Because of this, the island has seen a large number of migrant arrivals.
Boats under seizure, can't be removed
"I have been asking the relevant institutions for some time now to intervene to resolve the problem tied to the boats used by migrants that, once they arrive on Lampedusa, are moored and then forgotten about," Martello said. "It's a situation in which the administration has its hands tied, because the boats are under seizure and cannot be removed."
The mayor explained further: "Then time passes, the materials deteriorate, and sometimes the boats even sink. That sets off a series of further environmental procedures that further complicate the process of removal, which at that point has much higher costs that certainly the city can't be asked to cover, and therefore without the intervention of the ministry nothing can be done."
Martello wants the national government to act, fast. "It's not acceptable that our port is put at risk by abandoned boats due to bureaucratic red tape or the unwillingness of institutions to resolve this situation. The government needs to do something, before serious incidents take place," he said.