The Italian government has issued an ultimatum to the company in charge of the motorway bridge that collapsed with the loss of nearly 40 lives, giving it 15 days to demonstrate that it maintained the structure properly.
The transport ministry demanded that Autostrade per l’Italia show that it had previously met all its contractual obligations to ensure the proper functioning of the Morandi bridge.
Should the company’s response prove inadequate, the government will judge it to be in breach of the terms of its concession to run the toll-road.
The lucrative concession would then be withdrawn from Autostrade, part of the holding company Atlantia, which is controlled by the Benetton fashion empire.
The coalition government has adopted an aggressive stance towards the company, blaming it for the collapse of the bridge, which has so far claimed the lives of 38 people and injured 15 others, nine of them critically.
It also called on the company to pay to rebuild apartment blocks that will have to be demolished and to repair damaged buildings beneath the 51-year-old bridge.
Matteo Salvini, the interior minister, said he expects Atlantia to donate up to €500 million to help families and local government deal with the aftermath of the disaster.
“I will listen to the directors of Autostrade per l’Italia but I expect to see concrete gestures (from the company) immediately,” Mr Salvini said.
“Genoa cannot wait and the injured cannot wait. While the lawyers and the investigators do their job, we are doing all we can to obtain from Autostrade all that is possible for the relatives of victims, the injured, the people made homeless and the city of Genoa.
“As for concessions and penalties, we can talk about those from next week onwards.”
Luigi Di Maio, the head of the Five Star Movement and Mr Salvini’s partner in the populist coalition, said he was determined that the company’s right to manage the toll road would be revoked.
“Not only will we use the law to revoke the concession, but we’ll also apply a fine of €150 million. If they want to fight it, we’ll see them in court,” he said.
The Italian state might have to step in and run the motorway, along with others managed by Autostrade per l’Italia, he said.