Italy will launch a national plan to make motorways, bridges and schools safe following the collapse of the Morandi bridge in Genoa, the government said.
Giancarlo Giorgetti, undersecretary to the prime minister’s office, told newspaper Il Messaggero that authorities would launch an extensive infrastructure plan next month.
“It will be a maintenance operation with no precedents, with enormous investment in public works,” he said.
Mr Giorgetti comments come as the prosecutor investigating the collapse claimed the Italian state had “abdicated” its responsibility in ensuring the safety of roads.
“The philosophy of our system today sees a state stripped of its powers, a sort of absent owner,” Francesco Cozzi told the Corriere Della Sera newspaper.
He said he had “a hard time accepting the idea that road safety is in private hands,” but stopped short of calling for the nationalisation of Autostrade, saying instead that an independent agency could be in charge of security.
An increasingly fraught debate has raged in Italy over responsibility for the collapse, which was confirmed to have taken 43 lives as rescuers said they had ended the rescue operation overnight.
While Mr Cozzi pointed the finger at the state’s past management of infrastructure, Italy’s new government has blamed the collapse on Autostrade per I’Italia, which managed the Genoa bridge along with almost half of Italy’s motorways.
The company has set aside €500m (£448m) to rebuild the Morandi bridge and aid the port city in its recovery from the disaster, promising to complete its restorative work within eight months.
But the offer has been rejected by deputy prime ministers Matteo Salvini and Luigi di Maio, who said “the state won’t accept Autostrade’s handouts”.
Demanding “credible compensation” for what it claims is culpability, the government plans to strip Autostrade of all its lucrative contracts, totalling 3,020km (1,870m) of Italy’s 7,000km-long motorway network.
“If they think that they have paid for their mistakes then they are mistaken,” Mr Salvini said on Saturday.
In his comments on the planned national infrastructure investment, Mr Giorgetti did not detail a precise budget but said he hoped for generous funding, suggesting “deficit, GDP or European rules” should have no bearing on the project and insisting the European Union “will be benevolent”.
The Morandi tragedy has shaken Italy, and Saturday’s funeral for the victims was boycotted by a majority of families who objected to the presence of politicians and branded the ceremony a “farce”.
The Liguria region, where Genoa is located, declared a year-long state of emergency, with the government providing €28.5m for the year following the collapse.