‘We’re being stripped of our basic rights’: Years of neglect leave Rome a no-go for the disabled

In the Italian capital of Rome, mobility can be a challenging experience for people with disabilities.

Under current 1986 legislation, Italian municipalities are required to remove all architectural barriers — but less than 5 percent of them have actually done so.

People with reduced mobility are often the first to pay the price; not because of obstacles, but also because of the city’s waste disposal problems, as rubbish often gets in the way when trying to get around.

Rome’s new Mayor Roberto Gualtieri has pledged to transform the capital and address some of its long-term problems by allocating funding to both the Vatican’s 2025 Jubilee Year and the EU’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan (or Piano Nazionale di Ripresa e Resilienza, PNRR). Italian) used).

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Years of mismanagement and lack of maintenance have severely affected public transport services in the city.

One who suffers from years of neglect is Dario Dongo, lawyer and founder of Egalité, an association that fights for the rights of people with disabilities in Italy and specifically in Rome.

His organization has reported Atac (Rome’s municipal public transport unit) to local authorities on several occasions for its poor service to disabled people, but little has changed so far.

Dongo took Euronews with him on his daily commute, trying to avoid bumps in the sidewalks and negotiating missing ramps and steps. At some point he has to drive in the middle of the road.

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Arriving at a metro station in the heart of Rome’s historic center, Dongo has to wait 30 minutes at a non-working stairlift, only to be told he needs to connect to another metro station.

“We are working non-stop to get back to normal”

“In the past 14 years, our systems and infrastructure have not been maintained and they have not been overhauled. So today we have inherited a rather heavy legacy, which means that we will have to work nonstop for the next three years to bring everything back to normal,” Eugenio Patanè, deputy mayor for mobility of the Municipality of Rome, told Euronews.

“This means new investments and funds that we have thanks to the PNRR plan and the upcoming anniversary. All we need now is to get them fully functional. We need to organize tenders and do proper maintenance, but most of all we need planning.”

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Despite the challenges, Dongo doesn’t want to stop moving and says he hopes his fight can help improve the situation for everyone.

“Only by doing something can they change something, especially by putting pressure on those responsible from the ground up. We should all expect that to be the case [change] and complain if they don’t or they’ll never fix it”.

You can watch the full report on Dario Dongo’s daily commute in the media player above.

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