Monday, January 9, 2012

Keepin' it Clean Part III. Monaco's Really Clean Streets.

It's 6:00 in the morning in the ancient, cobblestoned village of Monaco-Ville, perched on a cliff high above the Mediterranean.  The sun is just starting to come up and the first yellow light of the day is falling on the ochre-coloured buildings and making everything look bright and cheery.  All is quiet except for the cries of the sea gulls circling high above the cathedral and the familiar sound of a water being sprayed on the ground below.  Wait a minute.  Water?  Being sprayed?
Joseph keeping our street safe from dirt
No, it's not a leaky pipe, it's Joseph, Monaco-Ville's favourite street cleaner!

Every morning, at about 6 o'clock, Joseph is up before anyone else, spraying the streets and side walks with water, washing away whatever looks like dirt between the Cathedral and the Oceanographic Museum.  He's been at it since 2001.  When Auntie first arrived in Monaco, she used to think that it rained every night!

Joseph is one of hundreds of people in Monaco who work for La Société Monégasque d'Assainissement or The Monaco Sanitation Company or SMA for short. The SMA was created in October 1938 by HSH Prince Louis II but the cleaners have been on the scene keeping Monaco squeky clean since 1866 when the new neighbourhood called Monte Carlo was built.  There's been a lot of sweeping since then and they do a great job too! 
Street cleaners of yore in Monte Carlo.
That's the Hotel de Paris on the left and
the Casino on the right
Vacuuming up those pesky pine needles

Like the Wash & Brush Up Company in the Merry old Land of Oz, each morning the SMA dispatches a fleet of hard working cleaners in smart uniforms with bright green vests to keep the Principality looking guest ready.

Now you don't
Now you see it
All day you can see them roaming around as they sweep, vacuum, scrub, spray, collect, scoop and retrieve whatever it is that the messy people toss, throw, cast and pitch onto the streets, beaches, and into the fountains and the sea. Together they clean everything in the public spaces made of marble, glass, stainless steel, concrete and wood and empty the trash cans that the tidy people fill.

Spray spray, spray
Sweep, sweep, sweep
How clean is it?  Well, aside from the occasional pile of dog poop, (see Keepin' it Clean, Part II), and omnipresent cigarette butts, Monaco is very clean. You won't see any graffiti or tags in Monaco.  The many closed circuit security cameras mean that vandals can be stopped and arrested in mid spray!

It's a Herculean task considering how many people visit Monaco each year.  According to Monaco Tourism, there were 4.5-5 million people who descended on Monaco in 2009 alone.  Some were tourists but the rest were people who live in France and Italy and arrive each day just to work here.

Not sure what this does but I'd stay out of its way!
Monaco has always been forward thinking when it comes to trash.  In 1898, Prince Albert's great grandfather, HSH Prince Albert I, built a trail blazing waste incineration plant in Monaco. Even in 1898 the plant was equipped with an energy recovery system that heated the plant and produced hot water for staff showers.  How cool is that?

Poor Joseph.  Wouldn't you know it, just as he went around the corner to start cleaning the next street, a man came along with a big brown dog and left a big pile of poop on the corner at the curb.

Just another busy day on the clean streets of Monaco!

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