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Benoît Payan: “The coast can also be our future”

SAside from its assortment of Japanese inks, the workplace of the mayor of Marseilles is a compendium of the Mediterranean. There’s this deep wool carpet from the Royal Savonnerie manufacturing unit representing a fraction of the Colossus of Rhodes, the furnishings straight out of the liner France and the work that adorn the partitions. Marseille blue painted in aid by Swiss artist Gottfried Honneger faces penguins locked in a basin. Additional on, an outdated view of Naples rubs shoulders with a recent work dealing with the younger socialist mayor. If his workplace turns its again on the Outdated Port, it’s so as to not be ” distracted by the panorama mirrored on the home windows. Benoît Payan is aware of his little weaknesses as he is aware of the pages of the historian Fernand Braudel on the Mediterranean: “ It’s the cradle of philosophy, of wars and peaces, of civilizations and Marseille is a novel port. This metropolis is fortunate. »

Level :Marseille has lengthy turned its again on the Mediterranean for cultural and historic causes. Will the Olympic Video games be a possibility to vary this metropolis’s relationship with the ocean?

Benoit Payan: I don’t imagine that. I’ve at all times had monetary reluctance for the Olympic Video games right here. Ultimately, the State and the communities helped us quite a bit and the invoice for town fell from 25 million to lower than 10 million euros, which continues to be costly. Past the crusing occasions which contribute to renewing hyperlinks with the maritime and nautical traditions of Marseille, we have now a really upset relationship with the Mediterranean. Marseilles was made up of successive contributions of populations who got here by the port and who didn’t go away. They’re tales of tears, of struggling, tales upset as a result of the Neapolitans, the Armenians, the Algerians or the Portuguese thought of this port as a spot of passage, however they remained. That is why this metropolis has such a novel id. It’s stated that it takes two centuries to grow to be a Niçois, twenty minutes to grow to be a Marseillais. The Olympics can be a second of standard jubilation, will probably be essential to reap the benefits of this windfall impact, however they won’t be used to vary the connection of town to the ocean.

We hardly ever point out the Marseille shoreline, which nonetheless runs for 57 kilometres…

It is true and but it’s a treasure that I need to have categorised by Unesco, with a purpose to shield it. Half of those 57 kilometers are landlocked in a port with closed entry, which additionally tells of the ambivalence of this metropolis. The harbor is undoubtedly some of the lovely on the earth. Those that have teased its tides and winds sense that one thing is happening there. It’s not an Olympic website for nothing. It is a liquid historic monument, this shoreline. He’s additionally our future. We have now a mess of issues to develop there.


I proposed to the President of the Republic the creation of an ideal college of the ocean. With a novel and placing structure, just like the Sydney Opera Home, however above all the potential of studying all of the professions of the ocean, of probably the most cutting-edge scientific analysis in ropemaking and marine framework. The way forward for the planet lies largely below water, it’s an unknown and that’s the reason it’s our future. This nation didn’t give Marseille an opportunity. However the President of the Republic, with whom I by no means agree politically, has understood that. That is why we get alongside and need to do “Marseille on a grand scale”. With twenty-five Mediterranean mayors, we have now additionally printed a manifesto to guard our sea in opposition to air pollution. We all know that this Mediterranean can also be a cemetery, that it’s dented by climatic, demographic, financial and social modifications. It is time to do one thing.

Therefore additionally the petition you launched in opposition to air pollution from cruise ships. Is the purpose solely symbolic?

It serves to start with to say that we will not pollute with impunity. We can’t, below the pretext of profitability, jeopardize the well being of the Marseillais. These giants of the seas emit merchandise that unfold demise. What I say is violent, however the cancers of the respiratory tract which have affected folks right here for twenty years are a actuality. We have now to get up. I requested for stricter emission management. Restrictive maritime zones for polluters can be put in place. It’s sure that we’ll not be capable to dwell what we have now lived.

Are you in favor of extending the low-emissions zone (ZFE) created within the metropolis heart in direction of the Grand Port?

Ultimately, the engines of those ships must be reduce or zero poisonous discharges can be achieved. The Marseillais wouldn’t perceive that they have been requested to vary vehicles whereas subsequent to the boats pouring sulfur and nitrogen oxide. There’s a flagrant injustice right here. The port is a part of the way forward for our metropolis, however not by cruises which we don’t even know what they bring about us again. The identical individuals who stated in 2012 {that a} cruise ship operator spent $150 a day went to $100 a number of years in the past and to $50 at this time. Is it actually severe? Individuals work on the port, entrepreneurs take dangers, we have now to assist them. The way forward for the port will depend on its opening, particularly because of this college of the ocean.

Is that this additionally a strategy to scale back fractures? We all know that folks within the northern neighborhoods have decreased entry to the coast…

Seeing a whole lot of hundreds of Marseillais nearly disadvantaged of this entry is one other injustice. I remorse that the selection of the nautical base for the Olympic Video games didn’t go to Corbières within the north. It is a magical place that we will open up somewhat extra. What’s loopy is that town rents the seashores of Corbières to the Port. We are going to cease paying, all that isn’t acceptable. The Grand Port has additionally determined to not pay its property taxes, which quantity to eight million euros. I’ll ship them the bill.

This isn’t going to calm your relations with the port, which is run by the State…

However the scenario is mind-boggling. This port is an enclave, it seems like a cave. These folks solely assume when it comes to profitability, they consider constructing a luxurious marina and motels, whereas Marseilles are individuals who dwell and work. All this doesn’t make sense. I’m flabbergasted at how this port has handled my predecessors on this workplace. That is not acceptable. Our relationships should relax, as a result of I don’t see what the port must achieve by arm wrestling. And I believe that in Paris, we understood that. There are emergencies to repair on this city, however that is all. And the port is a part of it.

Does this all embody an upheaval in mobility and political decisions within the discipline of transport?

Societies have advanced in accordance with their capability to maneuver, to be sedentary or not. A metropolis like Marseille is identical factor in a nutshell. It’s the attribute of our gregarious species to evolve, to trade. There’s a geography and a topography right here that flip Marseille naturally in direction of the ocean. A teenager from the northern districts who lacks public providers and locations of studying should transfer if he needs to get by. In any other case, he’s below home arrest. Nobody can settle for that anymore in a metropolis and nation like ours. I watched with nice disappointment this announcement made by the President of the Metropolis to run the tramway on the Corniche. This isn’t the place you want public transport. And it’s not a fad to say that there’s a want for these transports within the northern districts of town. That is the place they should be developed, as a result of there are none. However I imagine that everybody will find yourself becoming a member of the general public curiosity group that we have now launched on mobility.


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