E-steps can’t swim, not even in Marseille
A new vicious hype has popped up in the southern French port of Marseille. Since the school vacation, hundreds of e-steps have deliberately been thrown in the Mediterranean sea. The offenders are children, often not even ten years old.
“We’ve noted that a lot of our steps lost signal at the sea-side,” says Jérôme Poulet de Lime, the market leader in shared e-steps in the city. “Children wandering through the city from dawn to dusk, often between eight and ten years old, tell us it has become a popular game. For us, these steps are lost, we can only recuperate a few spare parts,” adds Poulet.
Adrien Painchaud, a teacher, is more concerned about the water quality than the financial losses of the renting companies. “I was disgusted to see these beautiful waters contaminated. I launched a call on the net, and with four friends, we went recuperating them.”
With a mask and a rope, they recuperated 35 units in one evening, each of them weighing approximately 15 kilos. The video of this ‘miraculous fishing party’ was immediately shared online.
Apart from visual pollution, Pinchaud is worried about the quality of the water. Every day, thousands of Marseillais and tourists are bathing in it. “After a session of dives to fetch them, I got serious skin problems. The lithium batteries probably start leaking.”
Painchaud first contacted the renting companies. Their answer was short: “We can’t do anything about it; it would cost us too much money to get them out of the water.” “They even refuse to recuperate the ‘saved’ ones,” indicates Painchaud.
The local authorities also blame others. “We were the first French city to sign a charter on the use of public steps, and we have an agreement with all of them,” says Jean-Luc Ricca, deputy of the mayor responsible for traffic and parking.
“This charter states that the operators, owners of the steps, engage themselves to ‘spontaneously evacuate’ the steps from wherever place they are found,” he underlines. So, at the moment, everyone is pointing at each other, and it’s only a worried citizen who reacts.