The Borneo Post (Sabah)

Rome red tape causes bodies to pile up


ROME: Funeral home operators staged a protest in Rome on Friday over a desperate situation they say has left almost two thousand coffins in the Italian capital waiting weeks or even months to be cremated.

While coronaviru­s has not helped the situation, the increase in deaths and limited access to public services caused by the pandemic has only exposed a long-standing problem blamed on Italy’s old nemesis – bureaucrac­y.

“We appeal to the mayor of Rome to end the current procedures needed to authorise a cremation,” Giovanni Caccioli, national secretary of the Italian Federation of Funeral Homes, told AFP at the protest.

Standing alongside their hearses, the funeral workers laid wreaths around the Roman Temple of Hercules Victor, near Mayor Virginia Raggi’s office, with notices reading: “Sorry, they will not let us bury your loved ones.”

According to Caccioli, Rome registers around 15-18,000 requests for cremations every year, for which families must go through a “tortuous” bureaucrat­ic journey involving the local cemetery, the municipal agency AMA and the registrar office.

Caccioli said the paperwork to obtain a cremation permit was still done by hand, and the process took on average 35 to 40 days in Rome, “an absurd situation”.

He noted other cities did it in one or two days, adding: “We can’t go on like this.” — AFP

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