TEN-T : The Għadira Nodes

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published Saturday 27 December 2008

by Carmel Cacopardo

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Two important points have to be borne in mind while searching for a solution to upgrade the Ten-T (Trans-European Transport Network) road link at Ghadira Bay, Mellieha.

Firstly, all identified solutions will have an environmental impact. Secondly, in order that the public discussion be fruitful all information must be freely available.

The stakeholders are not just NGOs and specific economic operators. The whole community is the stakeholder. Stakeholders require information not just from the perceived interested parties but more so from the public authorities that are vested with authority to defend the community’s interests.

A number of reports have been made public. Some have been quoted selectively. Others are still under wraps.

BCEOM (French engineering consultants), in its 2004 report entitled Feasibility And Environmental Impact Studies For Transport Infrastructure Projects In Malta – Final Feasibility Study Report and AIS Environmental Limited, in its 2005 report entitled Proposed Review Of Ghadira Road Options, identify the upgrading of the existing road along the beach as the preferred option.[vide also 1 and 2]

Since then a number of proposals have been publicised. These revolve around two possibilities: the retention of the existing road with modifications or the construction of an alternative road to the south of the Nature Reserve and the Danish Village.

Preliminary appraisal of environmental impacts has been drawn up and on its basis the authorities have issued opinions that have not yet been made public. These indicate the detailed studies that have yet to be carried out in order to arrive at a definite decision.

In particular, it is to be noted that the AIS report dated November 2005 states (pages 2 and 3) that BCEOM had rejected the tunnel design beyond the Danish Village, which would have reclassified the beach front route as a local road.

These proposals were rejected by BCEOM on the basis of “excessive and unpredictable costs”. In addition, the AIS report emphasises that “Mepa had rejected the tunnel options on environmental grounds because the area in question is classified as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC)”.

The AIS report further states that subsequent to the above-indicated Mepa rejection, ADT reassessed the situation and proposed three options, two focusing on the existing road and the third being a new road incorporating a tunnel and bridge through the garigue (an SAC) south of the Danish Village, which, like the SAC-protected Nature Reserve, has been officially approved by the EU and forms part of Natura 2000.

It is within this context that Mepa has requested a “holistic preliminary assessment of the impacts arising from the various options that ADT is now considering”. Mepa has requested a number of studies related to beach dynamics, ecology, agriculture, geology, geomorphology and hydrology, archaeology and others. These studies were requested way back in 2005 and none has to date seen the light of day, notwithstanding that everyone seems to be in a hurry! These studies, if properly carried out, are of fundamental importance in determining the manner in which the Ghadira Ten-T link is to proceed, if at all!

Various statements have been made in the past weeks. The most conspicuous were those related to the sandy beach. It is by now clear that these have originated (without scientific justification) from a consultant commissioned by one of the economic operators in Ghadira Bay and were intended to reinforce his proposal for a beach concession as a result of a possible re-routing of the Ghadira road.

Within this context it was highly unethical for the Ministry of Transport to invite the said consultant to sit alongside the ministry’s officials in a recent meeting with NGOs and the press. The ministry’s subsequent declaration that it would oppose proposals for beach concessions in the area can only be interpreted as an attempt to correct its ethical short-sightedness!

A further important statement was made last week by nature itself. The sea level temporarily rose to the road level, thereby reinforcing arguments already brought forward that the existing road during the winter months is doubling up as a coastal defence to the Nature Reserve, which, being sited on former salt pans is partly below sea-level.

At this point in the debate, matters are slightly less nebulous than they were in the beginning. The declaration by the Minister for the Environment that all the required studies will be carried out is welcome.

However, such a declaration risks being viewed as a cheap attempt at damage control unless an explanation is forthcoming as to why these studies have not yet been finalised notwithstanding that they were requested by Mepa way back in 2005!

It is clear that, until recently, some thought that these studies could be dispensed with only to realise at the 11th hour that the environmental lobby is vigilant and will keep insisting that the government, through its various agencies, should shoulder its responsibilities!

Sixth Seat Gymnastics

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The EU has paved the way for an agreement on Ireland holding a second referendum on the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty by October 31, 2009.

Generally speaking, this referendum will be introducing four new main guarantees for the Irish people: These consist in the following: 1. retention of one EU commissioner per member country; 2. full national autonomy in applying tax rates; 3. retention of the Irish concept of neutrality: 4. autonomy in the implementation of any laws related to the right to life, education and family values.

Nobody can foretell the outcome of next year’s Irish referendum result in October. However, if the Irish people vote in favour of ratifying the Lisbon Treaty, this would have two immediate institutional repercussions on our country.

The first thing is that Malta would maintain its right to have a permanent commissioner in the EU Commission. Which means that, by January 2010, we would have a new commissioner in place of Joe Borg who has already announced that he is not interested in serving a second term.

The second institutional implication would mean that Malta would get an added sixth seat in the European Parliament, to be taken up also probably as from January 2010.

We Maltese and Gozitans shall be electing our members of the European Parliament on June 6. When we go to the vote, all Maltese citizens will know that they are voting for five MEPs who will take up their seats in July 2009 and for a possible sixth MEP who, pending the result of the referendum in Ireland, would take up the seat six months later, in January 2010.

It is obvious that all Maltese electors will be going to the vote with this frame of mind. Which is why it would be very unseemly and untoward for the Maltese government to try and disallow the citizens to elect the prospective sixth Maltese MEP, through their vote, as from June 2009. The Prime Minister’s utterances in this regard raise grave concerns as to his intentions. Following the agreement at the latest EU summit, he was asked whether this meant Malta would be voting for six MEPs next June. He immediately answered that “this would still not be the case if the treaty is not in place by June. In the current undecided scenario, it was still too early to say how the eventual sixth MEP would be chosen”.

He added: “Let’s not jump the gun”, reminding journalists that the treaty’s ratification was not a foregone conclusion. “We will decide when we get there. The most important thing is that we have been assured that our sixth MEP will be in place as soon as the treaty is ratified.”

In this first declaration to The Times, Dr Gonzi already puts in doubt the Maltese people’s right to indicate their sixth MEP preference as from the June elections.

In his declaration to The Malta Independent, the Prime Minister went a sure step further: “Dr Gonzi confirmed that, come June MEP elections, Malta will be voting for a total of five European parliamentarians while the ways and means of electing an MEP for the sixth additional seat would be decided upon at a later date”.

Here, the Prime Minister’s views are clearly exposed. He is openly stating that on June 6 the Maltese people will be called upon to indicate their preference only for five MEPs. Then, four months later, he will decide “the ways and means of electing the sixth additional seat”.

Can you imagine the scenario? Spending around €1 million of citizens’ tax money to hold elections on June 6 and then spending another considerable amount to elect another MEP in another election four months later? Or is the Prime Minister already thinking of depriving the people of their right to choose by nominating somebody directly through Parliament?

These suspicions are further strengthened when one reads what Simon Busuttil, the Prime Minister’s right hand-man, his favoured one for the PN secretary general post, has to say about the subject: “But once the Lisbon Treaty will not be in force by next June, when the next European Parliament elections are due, we will still be electing five members, not six” (The Times, December 17).

Such declarations are not said off the cuff but reveal a readiness to deprive the people of their democratic right to choose a sixth elected representative. It is obvious that, legally, if things stay as they are, the electoral office can issue a writ only for the election of five MEP seats next June. But, knowing that a few months later there is the possibility that a sixth seat comes up, this can be remedied through a resolution in the Maltese Parliament, which allows the Maltese and Gozitan electors to decide also on June 6 for the possible sixth seat, when and if this comes up.

Since we are living in a democratic country, where it is the voters who choose their representatives and not the government or the Parliament of the day, I am expecting the Prime Minister to table this resolution in the Maltese Parliament as soon as the House reconvenes in January.

Failure to do so would mean complete disrespect of the people’s will.

At this stage, the onus of re-establishing the people’s sovereignty would lie in the hands of the Leader of the Opposition, Joseph Muscat, who should table the resolution himself.

I look forward to seeing whether we shall be regaled with further sixth seat gymnastics following the Christmas recess.

Dr Cassola is chairman of Alternattiva Demokratika – the Green party.

arnoldcassola@gmail.com, www.arnoldcassola.wordpress.com

Ghadira Report Released by AD

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Following a formal request which I made to MEPA on behalf of AD in terms of the Aarhus Convention (access to environmental information) MEPA has this morning released the report entitled  “Proposed Review of Ghadira Road Options Nodes NA3-NA4”. This was  produced in 2005 by AIS and commissioned by the Transport Authority.

This report is being released by AD in order that the public be better informed. A transparent government ould have released it around three years ago !

The Air We Breath

The link below identifies a significant contribution to the quality of the air we breath.

The Incinerator in Marsa, operated by Wasteserv, was recorded emitting copious amounts of dark smoke on Wednesday 17 December 2008 at 0700hrs.

Thank you George !

Il-bidla tal-klima u l-ħolqien tax-xogħol: x’relazzjoni?

illum 

 minn Carmel Cacopardo

ippubblikat 30 ta’ Novembru 2008

Dan kien is-sustanza tal-indirizz tal-kelliem fis-seminar organizzat mill-UĦM nhar il-25 ta’ Novembru 2008

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Kull union tagħti prijorità lill-kundizzjonijiet tax-xogħol tal-membri tagħha. Union ġenerali bħall-UĦM għandha l-possibiltà u r-riżorsi li tifrex il-ħarsa tagħha b’mod iktar wiesa’.
Il-Unions kienu fost tal-ewwel li fehmu u ħadmu biex ħaddieħor jifhem illi l-politika ekonomika ma tistax tħares biss lejn il-profitt materjali iżda trid kontinwament tiffoka fuq l-impatti soċjali.
Illum diversi qed jirrealizzaw li aħna ma ngħixux f’ekonomija. Ngħixu f’eko-sistema. Ma nillimitawx rwieħna iżjed għall-effett fuq il-bniedem iżda nikkunsidraw ukoll il-flora u l-fawna tal-viċin u tal-bogħod.
Meta nagħmlu hekk inkunu qed nassiguraw li nħarsu lil hinn minn imneħirna. B’hekk inkunu qed nassiguraw li filwaqt li aħna illum kellna l-opportunità li nieħdu d-deċiżjonijiet meħieġa għall-progress fi żmienna fl-istess ħin inħallu l-possibilità li dawk li għadhom ma twildux meta jiġi l-waqt ikunu huma wkoll jistgħu jieħdu d-deċiżjonijiet tagħhom. Dan hu l-bażi ta’ politika dwar l-iżvilupp sostenibbli u l-pedament ta’ ekonomija ġdida, ekonomija ekoloġika.
Il-politika dwar il-klima nipproponi li nħarsu lejha b’dan il-mod.
Illum hawn preokkupazzjoni dwar il-bdil fil-klima. Din il-preokkupazzjoni hi mnissla mill-fatt li l-bidla fil-klima qed tinħass u l-effetti tagħha qed jidhru. Sakemm dawn l-effetti bdew jidhru ftit kienu dawk li taw kaz: imma l-ħsara diġà kienet hemm.
Dak li l-effett tiegħu jmur lil hinn minn leġislatura Parlamentari – f’kull rokna tad-dinja – dejjem tħalla għal “iktar tard”. Issa l-“iktar tard” wasal.
Il-klima qed tinbidel u għandha effetti kbar fuqna u madwarna.
It-temperatura li qed togħla nieħdu pjaċir biha fix-xhur xitwin imma fis-sajf iddejjaqna u per konsegwenza nixgħelu iktar kmieni u għal perjodi itwal l-air conditioner.
Fil-heat waves li qed ikollna fis-sjuf qed jiżdiedu l-imwiet ta’ anzjani li ma jifilħux għas-sħana żejda, filwaqt li bit-temperatura togħla fix-xitwa b’mod partikolari f’pajjiżi ferm iksaħ minn tagħna, qed jonqsu l-imwiet kawża tal-kesħa fix-xitwa. Imma b’temperatura li togħla iktar nistgħu nkunu f’pożizzjoni li mard li jinġarr minn insetti li ma għixux fit-temperaturi li kellna s’issa jistgħu jfeġġu fiċ-ċirkustanzi l-ġodda li qed jiżviluppaw.
In-natura, kemm il-flora kif ukoll il-fauna, bit-temperatura togħla qed titħawwad ftit. Għax tifhem li nbidel l-istaġun u l-bidla tat-temperatura jibda proċess tal-istaġun li jkun imiss.
L-intensità tax-xita nassoċjawha mal-għargħar f’B’Kara u l-Imsida jew mat-tappieri tad-drenaġġ ifuru f’diversi partijiet ta’ Malta. Forsi m’aħniex konxji li xita qawwija tkaxkar il-ħamrija mill-għelieqi tagħna.
In-nuqqas tax-xita mhux biss tnixxef l-għelieqi imma tnaqqas r-rata li biha l-ilma tal-pjan ikun sostitwit bl-ilma tax-xita li jipperkola mill-blat. Flimkien mal-użu dejjem jiżdied tal-ilma tal-pjan in-nuqqas ta’ xita qed iżid id-dipendenza tal-pajjiż fuq sorsi mhux naturali għall-ilma meħtieġ għall-konsum b’mod li illum niddependu għal 60% tal-ilma mir-Reverse Osmosis.
Is-silġ qed idub għax it-temperatura medja globali qed togħla u per konsegwenza l-livell tal-baħar qiegħed jogħla.
Filwaqt li dan mhux se jiġri għada jista’ jibda joqrob lejn tmiem is-seklu li qegħdin fih.
Is-silġ fl-Artiku qed jonqos u nafu ukoll li jekk iddub dik li hi magħrufa bħala l-Greenland Ice Cap il-volum ta’ ilma ġenerat iservi biex jgħolli l-livell tal-baħar b’7 metri. Dan ikkawżat mill-gassijiet serra (greenhouse gases) li jirriżultaw mill-ħidma umana. Il-kontribut tagħna bħala Malta ġej prinċipalment mill-enerġija u t-trasport u f’miżura inqas mill-iskart u mill-agrikultura.
It-tnaqqis tal-kontribut tagħna bħala pajjiż lejn il-bidla fil-klima għaldaqstant irid jindirizza prinċipalment il-ġenerazzjoni tal-enerġija u t-trasport.
Fil-qasam tal-enerġija alternattiva filwaqt li ma nistax ngħid li ma sar xejn, nista’ iżda ngħid li dak li sar sar tard u bil-mod. Għalkemm ġie determinat sit potenzjali għall-istallazzjoni ta’ turbini tar-riħ għadu kmieni biex nistgħu ngħidu li dak hu s-sit. Meta jkun tlesta l-eżami tal-impatti ambjentali nkunu nistgħu nitkellmu aħjar fuq is-sit tas-Sikka l-Bajda.
Dwar siti fuq l-art nifhem li mhux faċli. Bejn li ħadd ma jridhom wara biebu prinċipalment minħabba l-ħsejjes li jiġġeneraw u bejn problemi ta’ estetika. S’issa iżda ma jidhirx li saru sforzi biex jinstabu siti adatti fuq l-art.
Fir-raba’ tagħna l-bdiewa użaw irdieden tar-riħ biex itellgħu l-ilma. Is-siti ta’ dawn l-irdieden tar-riħ huma magħżula bir-reqqa minn missirijietna. Dawn is-siti, li jgħoddu bil-mijiet, kollha għandhom il-potenzjal li jintużaw biex ikunu istallati turbini ta’ daqs medju.
Fiż-żoni industrijali hemm ukoll il-possibbiltà ta’ stallazzjoni ta’ turbini tar-riħ, tal-inqas f’dawk il-partijiet li huma ’l bogħod mill-abitat.
Dwar l-enerġija ġġenerata mix-xemx sar ftit wisq. L-għajnuna finanzjarja mogħtija mill-Gvern fl-aħħar baġit għalkemm hi ġeneruża hi ftit wisq biex tagħmel differenza. Minbarra dan l-applikabbiltà tagħha hi limitata għal min għandu l-mezzi biex joħroġ parti mill-kapital rikjest.
Kien ikun iktar floku kieku kienet ikkunsidrata skema fejn l-ispejjeż tal-istallazzjoni jkunu jistgħu jitħallsu permezz tal-elettriku ġġenerat.
F’dan il-kuntest l-eżempju li l-Gvern qiegħed jagħti permezz ta’ skejjel bħal San Benedittu fejn ġew istallati pannelli fotovoltajċi għandu jkun estiż għall-bini pubbliku kollu fuq medda ta’snin. Dan jinvolvi spiża kapitali mhux żgħira imma fi ftit żmien din hi spiża li tista’ tkun irkuprata, b’mod partikolari issa li r-rati tal-elettriku sparaw ’il fuq.
Fil-mixja lejn ekonomija ekoloġika, qed jinħolqu (u jistgħu jinħolqu bosta iktar) impiegi illi jikkontribwixxu biex tkun ippreservata l-kwalità ambjentali u fejn neċessarju din tkun restawrata. Dan jinkludi impjiegi konnessi mal-ħarsien tal-eko-sistemi u l-biodiversità, impjiegi konnessi mat-tnaqqis fil-ħela ta’ enerġija elettrika, tal-ilma u riżorsi oħra, tnaqqis fl-użu tal-carbon mill-ekonomija (decarbonisation), tnaqqis fil-ġenerazzjoni tal-iskart u tniġġis ta’ kull forma.

Dan se jfisser:
1. li jistgħu jinħolqu impjiegi ġodda fil-manufattura ta’ apparat li jnaqqas it-tniġġis,
2. xi impiegi ser jiċċaqalqu minn xogħol li qed isir illum għal xogħol ġdid li qed jinħoloq bħal fil-qasam tal-iskart jew fil-qasam tal-ġenerazzjoni tal-enerġija alternattiva flok dik tradizzjonali,
3. xi impiegi ser jintilfu u dan in konnessjoni ma’ attività li tista’ tkun eliminata jew imnaqqsa,
4. impiegi oħra ser ikunu żviluppati u trasformati biex jieħdu konsiderazzjoni ta’ realtajiet ġodda.

Dawn l-impiegi jikkonċernaw
1. il-ħtiġijiet tekniċi konċernati l-ġenerazzjoni ta’ enerġija alternattiva,
2. il-miżuri meħtieġa biex tiżdied l-effiċjenza tal-bini fl-użu tal-enerġija,
3. xogħol speċjalizzat konċernanti t-trasport, kemm dak għall-użu privat kif ukoll dak għall-użu tal-pubbliku,
4. l-industrija tar-riċiklar,
5. l-industrija tal-iskart,
6. is-servizzi ambjentali,
7. l-agrikultura in partikolari fit-transizzjoni lejn agrikultura organika.

It-triq hi twila u iebsa. Hemm problemi diversi konnessi mal-fatt li bdejna tard fit-triq lejn ekonomija li tirrispetta l-ambjent. Hemm ukoll il-problema li l-Gvern mhux dejjem konvint minn dak li qiegħed jagħmel.
Imma nemmen li l-kuxjenza nazzjonali li qed tifforma ser tgħin u tkun ta’ sostenn kbir biex din it-triq nibqgħu mexjin fiha bħala pajjiż.
F’din il-mixja l-unions għandhom rwol kbir. Mhux biss ta’ edukazzjoni tal-membri bħall-attività tal-lum. Imma fuq kollox li jassiguraw li l-partiti politiċi kollha jibqgħu mexjin f’din it-triq.

Greening the Economy

It was a pleasure to participate in the UĦM extraordinary general conference on November 25. Dealing with Climate Change And Its Impact On Employment it was an eye opener as to the increasing sensitivity to environmental issues within the ranks of trade unions. I noted during the interventions from the floor and in one-to-one contacts during breaks that age was no barrier in ever-increasing awareness.

The Maltese trade unions are in a position to understand the interrelationship between the environmental and social policy and, although to date they have been largely absent, they have much to contribute to the debate.

Climate change is a fact even though some would prefer to ignore it. It is all pervading. It is manifesting itself in temperature changes, in reduced but more intense rainfall, more frequent and severe storms, melting icecaps, a rising sea-level and a shift in seasons.

Moreover, immediate and direct effects of these changes include more dependency on reverse osmosis water, a migration into local airspace and waters of alien species and damage to our agricultural infrastructure. In the long term, maritime and tourism infrastructure and what’s left of the water table would be seriously under threat. All this affects the quality of life of one and all.

Malta contributes to the cause of climate change primarily through energy generation and transport and to a lesser extent through waste generated and agriculture. A proper management of all four areas could lead to a substantial reduction of greenhouse gases produced, thereby reducing the Maltese carbon footprint to within the acceptable criteria determined by the international community.

Addressing climate change adequately could lead to a net gain in employment levels. Reacting slowly or not reacting at all to this challenge will lead to net job losses.

A Green economy should be an achievable target, tied and conditioned by its effect on the eco system of which we form part. The eco system establishes limits which we exceed at our peril. It is these limits we should observe at all times as it is within an eco system that we live and not within an economy. The economy is a tool adopted by society and we should be reluctant of accepting it as a master. It is to ecology that we should defer at all times. If we do not we have to pay a substantial price.

One of the bills for actions taken in the past is currently due: it is climate change. This bill cannot be waived nor can it be ignored. We can realistically only pay up in instalments through reforming the manner we proceed with in our lives. Not by adapting to climate change but by addressing its causes unequivocally.

A Green economy is an economy that values both nature and people and creates decent, well-paying jobs. In a Green economy jobs are generated to preserve and enhance existing environmental quality and restore it were necessary. It reduces waste generation and increases the efficiency in use of water, electricity and other resources. It ensures that the eco system and bio-diversity are protected. According to the German-based Roland Berger Strategy Consultants the global market volume for environmental products and services currently runs at about €1,000 billion. This is projected to rise to €2,200 billion by 2020.

Green jobs can be created in the generation of alternative energy and in the energy efficiency of buildings and equipment. In the area of transport there may be a shift in employment to the servicing of public transport in all its forms. Likewise, there will be new jobs in the recycling industry: reducing waste generated and re-injecting into the economy resources that would otherwise have been lost.

The Green economy is capable of creating what is known as a double dividend: generation of employment and environmental gains. The transition must however be just. It must not be led by market forces but within a framework of social solidarity, where the economy is a servant and not a master. The transition to a Green economy requires that politicians with a social conscience cease playing second fiddle to Thatcherite colleagues.

Substantial reforms are required but these will only bear fruit if they are sustainable, a word which is much abused nowadays. The budget is peppered with its use, many times within a misleading context.

It should be clear that policies based on cost recovery concepts may be unsustainable if they do not inbuild a thorough consideration of social and environmental impacts.

Reform always moves at a slow pace. Taking on board the environment is slower because it is a challenge to an attitude that has generally ignored environmental impacts. If the trade unions adopt a Green view, the necessary reforms may not only take place at a faster pace, they will also be more equitable.

Charlo Bonnici u t-triq tal-Għadira

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Charlo Bonnici Membru Parlamentari f’isem il-PN il-bieraħ fil-Parlament qal li l-Gvern għandu jirrikonsidra l-pjani tiegħu għal triq ġdida fl-Għadira. Fid-diskors tiegħu emfasizza l-impatt tal-proġett kemm fuq il-villaġġ Daniż kif ukoll fuq ir-riżerva naturali.

Tajjeb li l-opposizzjoni għall-proġett kif maħsub s’issa qed tiżdied u qed tkun sostnuta ukoll minn Membru Parlamentari min-naħa tal-Gvern. M’ghandix dubju li hemm oħrajn fil-PN li jaqblu ma Charlo u li s’issa ħassewhom skomdi li jitkellmu bħalu.

Prosit Charlo.

 

Foresta 2000

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Din il-pjanta ta’ Foresta 2000 ippubblikata mill-Birdlife u Din l-Art Helwa turi kif it-triq tal-Għadira ser tgħaddi eżatt minn ġo nofs il-proġett Forest 2000.

Jiġifieri l-Ministeru ma jafx x’inhu jgħid meta jinsisti li l-proġett tat-triq fl-Għadira mhuwiex ser jeffettwa Foresta 2000.

Tiftakru kemm rajna pampaluni jippużaw u jħawwlu siġar f’Forest 2000 matul ix-xhur li għaddew ? Kemm kien hemm min tkaża meta seħħ każ ta’ vandaliżmu li bħala riżultat tiegħu inqerdu s-siġar kollha. Issa il-Gvern qed jipproponi li jgħaddi t-triq !

Hemm min jaf x’inhu jagħmel ?