The Bridge Collapse in Italy

In March this year, following the collapse of a footbridge in Miami, I said this:

For a standard, single-span footbridge to suddenly collapse in this manner in the United States in 2018 is incredible. Reinforced concrete footbridges have been built worldwide for decades, and ought to be the sort of thing a highways department can design and build on their own.

There is enough knowledge and experience by now to ensure these sort of accidents no longer occur.

I had the same thoughts yesterday when I read about this:

A motorway bridge has collapsed in the northwest Italian city of Genoa, killing 26 people and badly injuring 15, police told the BBC.

Dramatic video footage captured the moment of the disaster when one of the huge supporting towers crashed down during torrential rain.

Cars and trucks plummeted 45m (148ft) on to rail tracks, buildings and a river along with slabs of concrete.

This simply should not happen anywhere, much less in a modern, developed country with a history of engineering and industrial competence. The BBC has a good page on possible causes of the bridge’s collapse, but I fear it may have overlooked something far more serious: a general decline in overall competence.

My guess would be a lack of timely maintenance is the technical reason the bridge collapsed, but what I’m more interested in is how Italy became a country incapable of carrying out basic maintenance. This is the sort of thing you used to see in the Soviet Union, or basket-case countries whose rulers enjoy the kickbacks and prestige of large capital projects but can’t be bothered with the mundane task of maintaining anything. However shambolic Italy may have appeared over the years, you could be reasonably confident the bridge over which you were driving wasn’t going to disappear from under you halfway across: they might be corrupt and disorganised, but the basics still got done. That’s no longer the case, so what’s changed? Again, I’ll refer back to my earlier post:

There has been a major shift in modern companies from delivering something useful – such as a bridge which doesn’t collapse – to managing processes. A lot of companies have subcontracted out the actual work – designing, building, manufacturing, operating, maintaining – and instead busy themselves with “managing” the whole process. This involves lots of well-educated people in nice clothes sitting in glass-fronted office buildings sharing spreadsheets, reports, and PowerPoint presentations by email and holding lengthy meetings during which they convince one another of how essential they are. I’m sure this is pretty much what Carillion was doing when they went bust: anything useful was done by subcontractors. The distance between those doing the actual work and those supposedly responsible for the outcome has, in far too many companies, grown into a yawning chasm. Survival in a modern company is all about compliance and obedience, and accountability is non-existent because it is no longer required.

In such an environment, it is inevitable that the quality of work suffers, errors go unnoticed, and – occasionally – catastrophes occur.

Italy is flat broke and has been for some time, and this will likely be put forward as a contributing factor to the bridge’s collapse. But in my experience, when modern organisations start feeling the pinch the white-collar middle-managers clogging up the glass-fronted offices start preparing spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations which show if they cut back on certain things they can save money – things like maintenance. I’d hazard a guess the organisation responsible for maintaining this bridge has a budget which would make your eyes water, but almost all of it will be blown on overheads and inefficient, process-driven nonsense. They’ll also have a staff which would match the cast of Ben Hur, all of whom will know lots about the latest managerial missives but little about bridge maintenance. I’d also bet the individuals who actually maintain the bridge are subcontractors, and there’s a fair chance they’ve not been paid in a while.

I’m speculating, and perhaps I’m wrong. But currently there is a bridge lying on the ground when it ought to be sitting pretty in the air, and people are asking questions. This should never, ever have happened and it is almost inconceivable that it has. It might be a one-off but me, ever the skeptic, I’m not so sure. I think we’re going to see more of this sort of thing, vital pieces of infrastructure suddenly collapse or stop working in a manner which we in the west thought we’d never see again. I also expect we’re going to see several major corporations go under in the same period, and this will not be a coincidence. It’s good that engineers are now running around Italy inspecting other bridges for signs of collapse, but it’s high time some of these organisations and their management were subject to similar scrutiny.

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43 thoughts on “The Bridge Collapse in Italy

  1. The focus of the west (and that includes Italy) was for centuries on building a working and workable society. The goal was to develop, improve and maintain what was put in place, and to do that there was a need for more than competent engineers and architects.

    And then we discovered the delights of ‘people.’ So, less time and interest was devoted to the technical and far more time (and money) spent on people’s irrational whims, feelings and ‘welfare’. Not least of that was no doubt in Italy a huge effort was made in making illegal immigrants feel ‘at home’ and money that possibly might have gone to building and maintenance was diverted to paying benefits and massaging hurty feelz.

    The problem will only get worse. It has been said that in the Netherlands the increasing numbers of non-Dutch do not give a damn about maintaining the dykes. Why should they? These immigrabbers have proved if you don’t like some place, or it doesn’t work, you merely go somewhere else to get the free money.

    The collapse of the west is now taking on material proportions.

  2. The same thing happened with software.

    Want to know why some banking systems went titsup? Because they pensioned off the people with decades of experience and outsourced it all. And the guys doing outsourcing don’t give a crap. They have no long term relationship. And they’re managed by PowerPoint jockeys. These people think outsourcing software is like outsourcing catering or business cards and it isn’t. It’s far more complex and risky than that.

  3. The irony considering the durability and longevity of ancient Roman viaducts and aqueducts.

    Those reinforced concrete tendons do look like very bad design, coupled with high pollution and high salt content from the air could have introduced accelerated corrosion massively reducing their effectiveness.

    Good design and maintenance in public transport needs to take a back seat to big brother.

    “Los Angeles to be first US city to install subway body scanners

    The machines scan for metallic and non-metallic objects on a person’s body, can detect suspicious items from 30 feet away and have the capability of scanning more than 2,000 passengers per hour.”

    Pretty clever for a system that has 20 to 30,000 passengers and hour. Just imagine how many staff it will take to check folks that have things on them. So the poorer section of society will suffer more, the rich don’t take the subway and some of them might even get richer selling these systems.

    Back to the bridge, if you done a risk assessment of both situations the result would be massively pointing to immediate inspection and assessment of the critical nodes on that bridge and a totally negligible risk level of passengers on a train with things. But at least the scanners will keep people afraid.

    https://nypost.com/2018/08/15/los-angeles-to-be-first-us-city-to-install-subway-body-scanners/

  4. What you’re delineating Tim is really a gulf between those societies that are serious and those that aren’t. Much of the west stopped being serious in the 1960s. China only started being serious in the 1980s. Israel has been serious continuously since 1948.
    Any society whose natural reaction to someone who raises the issue of transgender bathrooms is not ‘just fuck off will you’ is doomed.

  5. HD
    “Apparently everyone who ever drove over that motorway prayed that they’d get to the other side.”

    Yes, I have. But it is not just the bridges (there is another on the Autostrada from the north that turns like a helter-skelter), there are slip-roads that look more like T-junctions, the constant alternation of dark tunnels and sunny viaducts… and as for the driving.

  6. I don’t think it’s just engineering.

    I just had a strip torn off by a client for the supposedly terrible performance of my colleagues during my unplanned absence (yeah, sorry we had to change the project manager halfway through but I did kinda nearly die, which I think is a reasonable excuse).

    Of course the debacle had nothing to do with the spec being “OK, you take these management-approved documents, that you together with your former colleague – the really good one we poached from you – already wrote 2 years ago, and add 1 new study to them – which you also wrote and is fully management-approved. Just a nice quick copy paste job, innit”.

    Whereas the actual project was a complete rebuild according to the newbie’s (have to make an impression) personal tastes.

    Nothing at all to do with that.

    The result is of course going to be inconsistent with everything else and fail to meet exacting personal specifications. (In what I do, perfectionism gets in the way and should be treated as an ambition, not a requirement. I’m sure bridge building is different).

  7. For what it’s worth, the mafia is heavily involved in the autostrada industry in Italy and is well-known for selling sub-grade materials at high prices. It’s possible that this bridge used mafia-supplied concrete and reinforcement. I wonder how many bodies will now be found…

  8. BiG
    Is there an element of ‘just in time’ perfection about engineering? I’m not an engineer but I do think the Italian bridge looked awfully spindly. I’m not surprised the aqueducts survived – they’re brick proverbials. This affair in Genoa looks like it was made of spaghetti. I’m sure I’d over-engineer everything and make it twice as strong and twice as expensive as need be – but at least that wouldn’t fall down. I often look at e.g. my lawnmower and the bits that regularly break and wonder why the fuck the plastic there isn’t three times as thick. Or the recharger wire on a iPhone where it meets the socket and frays to shit in 6 months. Just inadequate because it looks nice. Function over form. Or form that is driven by function.

  9. @Patrick

    That’s the problem in a nutshell — the western world is now totally dominated by vapid narcissists who put appearance before reality and work to crush those who do otherwise. The rise of cults of ‘diversity’ and ‘gender’ is also reflective of this.

  10. We only see the Roman engineering that survived. Their bridges used to fall down too.

    In the 1980s not much fell down because not much was 50 years old.

    We have now a very much larger infrastructure and an older infrastructure. If you have twenty times the number of bridges, then even if the collapse rate is a tenth of previously, then the number of collapses will double.

    Add in that much larger traffic volumes lead to much greater death tolls for the same collapse.

    Two data points isn’t enough to build a trend. The US collapse wasn’t a maintenance one anyway.

    In most of the easily quantifiable areas, like airplane and maritime safety, dramatic failures are greatly on the decrease. We just tend to notice the failures and discount the massive number of extra opportunities for failure.

    For example, death by fire is dropping in the UK. Even 2017, with Grenfell, it’s far lower than the previous decade’s rate.

  11. ” I often look at e.g. my lawnmower and the bits that regularly break and wonder why the fuck the plastic there isn’t three times as thick. Or the recharger wire on a iPhone where it meets the socket and frays to shit in 6 months.”

    That’s done deliberately so they can sell you a new one.

  12. Chester: Roman engineers were required to sleep under their bridges for six months post completion. Self interest is the best quality control.

  13. I, like all northwestern Italians, have traveled over that bridge several times: mostly going on holidays but also for my job. Of course, a shiver runs through my back thinking that I with my family could have been there at the wrong moment; my prayer to the wretched victims.
    I’m not totally confident about my country’s infrastructure (leaving aside the sad theme of the corruption always involved in big public projects, and the Biblical times required), but I believed that the highway were solidly built – we have plenty of viaducts on the Alps and all along the Apennines backbone.
    It now appears that the illustrious Ingegner Riccardo Morandi (1902-1989), author of the fallen bridge in Genova, has more than one
    failure on his conscience: a twin bridge built by him in Agrigento, Sicily (just in front of the otherwise splendid Greek temples… ahem) is blocked since 2015, deemed insecure. A public tender for reparations will be held later this years; estimated cost and time: 30 millions €, 2021 (meaning: 45 millions €, 2030 – at least).
    He also built several other bridges, among them:
    – one in Maracaibo, Venezuela: destroyed by a ship hitting one of the pillars;
    – another in Tuscany, on the river Arno: after the famous flood in 1966 (when Florence was covered in mud and people from all over the world came to help clean that jewel city, https://tinyurl.com/yd4xy2bc) one of the pillars flexed so the bridge was destroyed and replaced;
    – one in Lybia: closed in 2017 for impending structural failure;
    – he worked also on the Tower of Pisa, but its declivity does not seem to be his fault…
    It has to be said that other bridges by Ing. Morandi are still standing, but a check is in order, I guess.

  14. A few years back, Henry Petrovsky, and noted civil engineer and author of many books on engineering, noted that design engineers had a long history of pushing new bridge technologies to their limits, hence the Quebec bridge, Tacoma Narrows, et al. He speculated that some day we would see a collapse of a cable-stayed bridge. The one in Genoa was built near the beginning of the cable-stayed innovation, so it might not be a good example of Petrovsky’s evolutionary theory. Moreover, it was a damnable maintenance pig from the git-go.

    But it should not have happened, neither should the collapse of the Diversity Bridge at FIU. These projects are by law are supposed to be under the supervision of licensed professional engineers with substantial training and experience in design and construction. The person who signs and stamps the construction drawings is personally responsible for the accuracy of those designs. In the Hyatt fiasco a generation ago, several people lost their licenses, although they escaped criminal penalties.

    The idea that modern construction management itself has a hand in these collapses is a good one. I taught for many years in a civil engineering department, and it was apparent that the construction management was all about management and not construction per se nor design per se. The many majors it had in our department (30% of enrollment) were generally the bottom of the students and not very well versed in steel and concrete design nor soil mechanics.

    Expect more of same as STEM becomes ever more pozzed.

  15. I don’t have a lot to add but some good comments. Bardon – I did a quick google and apparently some Roman aqueducts are still in use! Remarkable, although I take Chester’s point about survivor bias.

    Patrick – v good comment.

  16. “In the 1980s not much fell down because not much was 50 years old.”

    Chester Draws is spot-on. There is a romantic myth that older engineering was much better than now, whereas in fact it seems that much of modern Western infrastructure was thrown up 40-50 years ago by people who barely knew what they were doing, but were good at getting a lot of it done. Since then it’s been chronically under-maintained and is now coming to the end of its useful life.

    The report into the recent Oroville Spillway failure in the US (a screw-up which is costing roughly a billion dollars to repair) is fascinating reading, particularly for any recently unemployed engineers (or people on wet holidays in Wales, which is where I read it). Not only has this massive bit of infrastructure been woefully under-maintained for ~50 years, but it turns out that, far from being created by the mythical engineering giants of the 1950s/60s California Water Project, it was badly designed by a recent graduate with essentially no experience, badly built by under-supervised contractors and fundamentally failed within months of construction, which no-one at any point since 1970 had had the courage to face up to. It then clung on right through to the era of transgender bathrooms, at which point it gave up completely and washed itself away.

    It’s not clear to me that we’ve ever been very good at maintaining stuff long-term, and as the average age of infrastructure assets increases that’s going to be increasingly obvious.

    I suspect we are actually a lot better at building this stuff now than we used to be, though for a number of reasons it’s now so expensive that we don’t seem to be able to have very much of it.

    ‘yer ’tis for anyone else minded to recreationally read a 600 page engineering failure report: https://damsafety.org/sites/default/files/files/Independent%20Forensic%20Team%20Report%20Final%2001-05-18.pdf

  17. The bridge was being maintained, see pics in the DM. Whether well or in the right priority, maybe not.

    Asked by the Genoa building commissioners what the design life of his bridge was Morandi would not have said 100 years. He’d have guessed 30 – 50. Which is about now. His design has rarely been repeated, which suggests to me that it was a bit pants.

    These post-war guys were doing their calcs with a slide rule and a stubby pencil. They needed armies of guys doing arithmetic that nowadays the computer can do in seconds. Yet costs rise like mushrooms after rain. I suspect Friedman’s disease.

    As for suggesting we have a binary choice (Watcher, I’m watching you) between building disabled toilets or bridges… That’s just crass.

  18. I note that the design life for these structures was around 50 years. Which is, coincidentally, give or more often take a few years, the design life of any structure ever built anywhere.. (Not coincidentally, because that’s sufficient to see everyone involved in & responsible for the project dead & buried. Another construction parameter is sufficient time to let the contractor get paid & away down the street & round the corner. See Spain)
    So the question really is; how much were they willing to spend on maintenance to extend the design life & did they spend it?

  19. The Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos, Nigeria is unfortunately a prime candidate for something like this. Really it’s a causeway but the sheer volume of traffic and the likely lack of maintenance is going to make for a horrific situation if/ when it eventually goes. Many of the pillar footings are washed out.

  20. @Patrick

    I’ve used P40 & Al drinks cans (no rust) to reinforce repairs to lawnmower and other plastic things. Also copying dentist “crown & post”, drilling thicker plastic and gluing in post to strengthen repair.

    No failures of repairs to date.

  21. Well, that is how free market works. Maybe there is something to do with Mafia but average cutting cost business is not much better.

    When you turn something to the rat fight , then winner is the biggest rat. Thets how market works. In the 1990s , Russia was capitalist paradise. Small Government, low taxes, few regulations. Actually everybody could ignore all 3. Did Russians got the best Airlines or did they got lot of air crashes ?

    Of course it is possible to build good bridge. But market is about money, not about values. Cash in and get out. No responsibility whatsoever. I do not know, who to blame but I am sure that he is very rich and laughing right now.

  22. “The infrastructure, Jerry. It’s crumbling!”

    Tim, it sounds similar to the notion that the reason we don’t go to the moon anymore is because we can’t.

  23. “I note that the design life for these structures was around 50 years. Which is, coincidentally, give or more often take a few years, the design life of any structure ever built anywhere.”

    I have no idea what the design life for this particular bridge was supposed to be, but it’s simply untrue that modern civil engineering structures have a design life of around 50 years. It’s much more likely to be something like 120 years.

  24. It’s possibly instructive to compare Victorian infrastructure to the 1960s stuff that’s now falling down. The Forth railway bridge for instance I think still has a projected life (with sensible maintenance) of 300 years in network rail’s estimates, while the original road bridge is essentially scrap in half the time the Victorian bridge has been standing.
    Our mastery of steel cables and concrete appears to be no match for a Victorian armed with steel (or even iron) and rivets.

    Again, a small, low level road/railway bridge over a tidal estuary near my parents is instructive – originally built in the 1860s with simple timber piles, and probably assembled in less than a month, is recent concrete replacement cost around £12million, took nearly 2 years to install, and I very much doubt will see its 100th birthday, never mind its 150th.

    This isn’t to say the Victorians didn’t get things wrong – the Tay Bridge disaster being an obvious example – but they were much better at learning the lessons from such things than we appear to be.

  25. When I looked at the concrete encased cable stayed section on that bridge the only thing I could put it down to is that the engineer was attempting to protect the steel members form corrosion. As the concrete will be doing nothing else structurally whatsoever. The problem that they may have created is that you can no longer see what is going on with the tension members, and even if you could access up there in the air above the bridge for inspection let alone repairs is hugely prohibitive.

    The Florida bridge was also cable stayed but there is absolutely no comparison between the two as the Florida never even made into service and it was never ever hung off the cables because the column to hand them off wasn’t even erected yet, which to me was the root cause of that failure.

  26. I have been involved with some pretty aggressive reinforced concrete with long design lifes and special mixes. Reinforced concrete is very durable in the most aggressive of environment provided it is placed properly.

    The spate of structural problems with reinforced concrete structures-built post war particularly in London was first wrongly diagnosed in the late seventies as “concrete cancer” which is the same period of time that this bridge was built in. Not forgetting that mainstream use of structural reinforced concrete as we know it these days was mostly introduced by the Germans in the thirties.

    This was proven to be nothing of the kind and was due to poor construction methods that resulted in the finished structure having concrete that was porous and also weak due to it having started to set before it was placed or bony due to separation in the mix during placement whereby the fines separated from the larger aggregate. This allowed water to reach the reinforcing steel where the outer steel surface corroded having two effects the corroded outer layer (iron oxide) having a larger volume than steel expanded and dis-bonded the interface between the steel bar and the concrete it was therefore no longer a homogenous member ie had no tensile properties whatsoever and also caused the outer lying concrete to completely burst off, due to the expansion of the steel. Some of you will remember seeing this on say walls where you see a decent sized area broken off (spalled) to reveal dark brown corroded reinforcing steel and evidence of brown staining running down below the defect.

    The other problem was placing concrete after it had passed its early set, ie it is bonding together and say is sitting in a truck or even on the ground and to place it after this time means you are severely reducing its strength, ready mix concrete must be placed no later than 90mins since it was batched (water added to start the cementation process).

    Then there is segregation which was typically due to poor handling and placemen techniques where the concrete mix which a designed matrix of differing sized particles were allowed to separate resulting in a very fine section and very bony sections (large stones only) the biggest cause of that was freefalling concrete from a height into forms, this is no longer allowed and it now needs to be tremieied when being placed from a height. The other major problem that caused massive segregation in early reinforced concrete placement was lack of vibration in the wet mix, vibration is needed to cause the mix to consolidate into its densest form before it starts to set, this is normally done with poker vibratos placed at a predetermined pattern or external vibrators of the formwork shutters. Concrete workers and site supervision were very blazaise with this technique and didn’t appreciate its importance and thus lack of simple vibration caused huge problems with low density concrete with many water pathways.

    Reinforcing steel inside concrete needs to have at least 50mm cover from the external face of the structure, this was widely ignored or not properly implemented in the past resulting in lack of cover or zero cover permitting oxidation to take place.

    The last major problem was cold joins where say a large horizontal section was being poured that requires many loads (typically concrete truck is 5m3). Site workers would pour say the bottom the third and then stop for lunch which meant that the poured concrete had begun to set, they would return to work and continue to pour more concrete which fell on top of previously set mix and never bonded, this is called a cold join and is very porous.

    Concrete unlike steel is an extremely durable material as can be seen any the longevity in Roman structures like the Pantheon. If the mix is properly deigned, made properly and placed properly it will last thousands of years with no to minimal maintenance. Steel* on the other hand is very susceptible to corrosion and in the presence of an electrolyte (water and oxygen) will quickly return to its natural state being iron oxide. So, when you have the situation that water and oxygen can get to the steel inside a reinforced concrete structure then you have a major problem that is near impossible to rectify.

    *Steel can be used with no corrosion protection in inland Australia where there is no salt in the air, I have also seen many above ground overland steel pipelines in the PNG highlands that have no corrosion protection. Most of the developed areas of the world and particularly Europe and its’ large cities tend to be on the coast and near rivers due to their historical development so steel weil readily corrode if exposed to the weather.

  27. There’s a good channel on YouTube with a nice but very non-PC technician: AvE. He does lots of technical stuff and had a look at this event, with his long and deep experience. Long story short, he came across a report online about this bridge: It was explicitly known that it was a death trap (so in this case the office-folk seem to have been on the ball) but I understand from the comments that the politicians just didn’t want to spend the money…

  28. The Florida bridge was also cable stayed but there is absolutely no comparison between the two

    I don’t think the collapse of this bridge in Italy shares anything with the one in Miami technically. However, I do think there may be similarities organisationally.

  29. For what it’s worth, the mafia is heavily involved in the autostrada industry in Italy and is well-known for selling sub-grade materials at high prices.

    My dad mentioned this, and it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s true. Usually when buildings collapse in places like Iran and Turkey during earthquakes they find the design was fine but the construction materials of much lower spec than the design called for. But the Italian authorities must know about this problem by now.

  30. The same thing happened with software.

    That’s interesting; as I’ve implied, I think this problem is widespread.

  31. In most of the easily quantifiable areas, like airplane and maritime safety, dramatic failures are greatly on the decrease.

    All this shows is that proper organisational competence is possible given the right incentives. The airline industry seems to have got it right, whereas other industries and fields appear to be getting worse.

    Incidentally, every now and then someone pops up in the oil industry to suggest we take a leaf out of the airline industry’s book in terms of safety management. It’s met with hoots of laughter: we’re so far behind, and the cultures so vastly different, it’s a non-starter.

  32. Chester Draws is spot-on. There is a romantic myth that older engineering was much better than now, whereas in fact it seems that much of modern Western infrastructure was thrown up 40-50 years ago by people who barely knew what they were doing, but were good at getting a lot of it done. Since then it’s been chronically under-maintained and is now coming to the end of its useful life.

    I have no doubt this is true, and much of the infrastructure inherited by the current generation is badly designed, poorly constructed, and very difficult to maintain. But my point is there are organisations filled with supposedly professional, qualified individuals whose sole responsibility is to do whatever is necessary – maintain it, demolish and rebuild it, reduce the loads, reinforce it, whatever – so that it doesn’t collapse without warning and kill a bunch of people. These organisations failed utterly, and I’m interested to know how and why.

  33. The Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos, Nigeria is unfortunately a prime candidate for something like this.

    They’re about to close it for maintenance, with all traffic being re-routed through the shanty towns. That’ll be fun on a Friday night heading for the airport.

  34. Just like the captain of a ship was ALWAYS court martialled for losing it, engineers should ALWAYS be charged if one of their projects fails, as well as the GM or CEO of the company. Let it be on their heads to prove they did everything possible and if it turns out they didn’t, then they deserve a life sentence in prison in tribute to their victims.

  35. Well said:

    …What should not happen is something like a replay of the kneejerk response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy in Britain. After the fire at Grenfell, seemingly caused by flammable external cladding, hundreds of councils across the country panicked and spent large chunks of their budgets randomly ripping off cladding from tower blocks with no clue as to why they were doing it. If Italy were now to institute a major spending spree on inspecting all bridges to appease the risk lobby, it would be a real waste of time and effort…

    http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/genoa-notes-on-a-disaster/21709

  36. @theProle – “It’s possibly instructive to compare Victorian infrastructure”

    The other difference from the Victorian era to our times is that during her reign and right up until her death there was zero inflation in the UK. Ie a pint of beer cost the same at the start of her reign as it did at her wake.

    We however have been living in an inflationary environment ever since her funeral procession and don’t know any different way.

  37. Re Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos, the couple of days shutting down looks like the prelude to many more closures ahead, according to the BBC:

    https://www.bbc.com/pidgin/tori-45240349

    3rd Mainland Bridge go close from Thursday 23 August reach Sunday 26 August

    Lagos State goment say dem go shut down di 3rd Mainland Bridge for four days from midnight of Thursday 23 August to midnight of Sunday 26 August 2018 to cari out Investigative Maintenance Test.

    Di state Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Ade Akinsanya, wey tok am for statement, say dem take di decision afta dem consult wit di Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing.

    Lagos State for southwest Nigeria, na di kontri bizness capital and di 3rd Mainland Bridge na im connect di mainland of di city wia most pipo dey live, wit di Island wia most of di work dey happun.

    Na 30 years ago di Nigeria goment build di bridge and according to oga Akinsanya, dem dey close am for four days to enable di contractors to check how di bridge dey afta which dem go begin work am by di end of di year or early 2019.

    Im tok for di statement say: “All traffic management agencies including di Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) and di Police, go dey ground to make sure say traffic move wella for di oda roads and traffic corridor across di city.”

    Di commissioner add say di federal goment bin don plan to close di bridge for July, but dem move am go front afta dem do meeting wit di state goment and and oda stakeholders, wey tok how trailers wey dem park for road anyhow, go affect oda roads. Im say na dat wan make dem set up Joint Task Force wey remove di trailers from road.

    Di state goment dey ask pipo make dem reason di mata wit dem and to avoid waka wey no get head for di four days dem go close di bridge.

  38. No real argument about the post, but an additional point about software;

    With the banks, those core systems would have been originally built about 70~80 years ago now, outsourcing the IT function is inherently dangerous, as the software suite will have come to represent the equivalent of human experience accumulated over the same timescale (70~ years is roughly two generations of employee experience). It can be almost archaeological it the way it fits together.

    God only knows that management can do stupid things; but it is still pretty rare to dump that level of business-critical human capital out on it’s arse, but software seems so easy to replace.

    The other odd thing is that this embedding/accumulation process can happen quite quickly; you get a few guys with an idea together to start a firm; but outside of some fairly generic processes or business rules, they don’t really understand what’s going on. They can end up buying a generic solution, then calling the consultants in quite quickly, who build a nice new customised system on top of it, then bugger off. The result is that people in the firm know that the software just works, but don’t understand why it works in that particular way; when the environment changes, the firm just dies, unable to change the processes embedded in the system.

  39. Italy isn’t a modern, developed country. At heart it is about as third world as you can be.

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