Il-Master Plan ta’ Paceville u l-aċċess għall-kosta

new parliament building Malta2

Fil-Parlament il-bieraħ attendejt għal laqgħa ta’ diskussjoni dwar il-Master Plan għal Paceville.

F’din il-laqgħa l-Kumitat Parlamentari għall-Ambjent u l-Ippjanar kompla d-diskussjoni mibdija f’seduta oħra. Rappresentanti tat-Taqsima tal-Propjeta’ tal-Gvern wieġbu xi mistoqsijiet li kienu għadhom pendenti kif ukoll ippreżentaw xi informazzjoni li kienet mitluba mill-Kumitat dwar art tal-Gvern f’Paceville.

F’intervent li jiena għamilt ġbidt l-attenzjoni tal-Kumitat Parlamentari għall-Ambjent u l-Ippjanar li ftit xhur ilu, l-Parlament kien approva emendi għall-Kodiċi Ċivili li permezz tagħhom ikkjarifika l-ħtieġa tal-ħarisen tal-kosta. Ma jagħmilx sens, żidt ngħid, li wara li l-Parlament approva dawn l-emendi għall-Kodiċi Ċivili b’vot unanimu issa jiġi dan l-abbozz ta’ Master Plan li prattikament jinjora dawn l-emendi.

Din hi materja kruċjali għax għandu jkun assigurat li l-aċċess għall-kosta jkun wieħed reali għal kulħadd.

Ara ukoll

Malta Today: Paceville masterplan ‘makes mockery’ of new coastal protection law, AD warns.

The Malta Independent: The Paceville Master Plan must be sent back to the drawing board.

Meta l-Pulizija tagħlaq għajnejha t-tnejn

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Huwa tajjeb li l-gazzetti jkunu kapaċi jikxfu dak kollu li mhux sewwa, jew ta’ l-inqas li jidher li mhux sewwa. Kienet għalhekk f’waqtha kemm l-istorja tal-Malta Today ta’ nhar il-Ħadd kif ukoll id-deċiżjoni immedjata ta’ Joseph Muscat, bħala Prim Ministru, li jiftaħ investigazzjoni immedjata biex jara eżattament x’ġara u, jekk jirriżulta meħtieġ jittieħdu passi bla dewmien.

Waqt li m’huwiex prudenti li nikkummenta fuq l-istorja nnifisha hemm dettall żgħir li ta’ min jitfa ftit dell fuqu.

Fl-istorja tal-Malta Today tingħata informazzjoni anke dwar il-moviment tal-file tal-Pulizija. Din hi nformazzjoni importanti u ta’ relevanza anke għall-istorja innifisha. Imma din hi materja li f‘pajjiż fejn il-Pulizija taħdem bis-serjetà hi iktar minn kunfidenzjali.

F’dawn l-aħħar xhur din it-tip ta’ informazzjoni sensittiva li toħroġ mid-Depot tal-Pulizija ġrat ta’ l-inqas darbtejn oħra. Niftakar il-pubblikazzjoni ukoll fil-Malta Today tal-kontenut tal-file personali tal-Ispettur Elton Taliana kif ukoll it-telefonati li waslu fil-Control Room tad-Depot tal-Pulizja fil-kaz tax-xufier ta’ Manwel Mallia li ġew f’idejn il-Partit Nazzjonalista.

Jidher li l-Korp tal-Pulizja mhux kapaċi jħares l-informazzjoni sensittiva li għandu f’idejh u jieħu passi dwarha. Din hi materja ta’ gravità kbira daqs l-istorja ppubblikata innifisha.

Hemm konklużjoni waħda biss li nista’ nasal għaliha, u din mhux dwar il-kapaċità investigattiva tal-ġurnalist li ħadem fuq l-istorja. Il-ġurnalist li jingħata l-informazzjoni fuq platt jagħmel il-ġudizzju etiku tiegħu dwar kif jista’ jagħmel l-aħjar użu minn dik l-informazzjoni. Imma jibqa’ ħafna mistoqsijiet mhux imwieġba. Il-ġurnalist xogħolu hu li jiftaħ għajnejh beraħ biex jinforma. Imma anke l-Pulizja għandha l-istess dover u allura meta tagħlaq għajnejha it-tnejn kulħadd għandu jkun imħasseb dwar fl-interess ta’ min tkun qed taħdem.

Min qed jilgħab din il-logħba, qed jilgħab logħoba perikoluża ħafna. Hemm min jivvantaġġa ruħu momentarjament bl-informazzjoni sensittiva li tkun ippubblikata, imma fl-istess ħin qed issir ħsara kbira lill-pajjiż kollu. Għalhekk ukoll jikkrollaw l-istituzzjonijiet. Għax kif jista’, wara dawn l-istejjer ikollok fiduċja fil-Korp tal-Pulizija?

Min ser jitkellem dwar il-governanza tajba issa?

F’Paceville, il-Gvern jaħdmek

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L-Awtorità tal-Ippjanar ippubblikat, għal skop ta’ konsultazzjoni pubblika, dokument dwar Paceville. Dan hu dokument li għal darba jaħseb fit-tul. Iħares lejn l-iżvilupp ippjanat għall-inħawi fit-tul u b’mod ħolistiku. Sa hawn, tajjeb, għax hekk għandhom isiru l-affarijiet.

Imma meta tibda taqra id-dettalji, jibdew il-mistoqsijiet. L-ikbar mistoqsija hi dwar jekk l-awtoritajiet humiex, għal darb’oħra, qed jippruvaw jaħdmuna billi jinqdew bl-ippjanar għall-użu tal-art biex iħaxxnu l-bwiet ta’ uħud: dawk li jmaxtru dejjem u f’kull żmien.

Il-pjan, fost oħrajn, jidentifika l-ħtiġijiet infrastrutturali ta’ numru ta’ proġetti (disa’ fil-għadd), ewlenin fosthom toroq u probabbilment mina taħt l-art u dan biex ikun iffaċilitat l-aċċess għal Paceville li qed titfassal. Dawn il-ħtiġijiet infrastrutturali, jgħid il-masterplan għal Paceville, huma meħtieġa biex jilqgħu għall-moviment sostanzjali ta’ persuni li huwa antiċipat li dan l-iżvilupp kollu ser jiġġenera.

Min ser idaħħal idu fil-but u jagħmel tajjeb għal dawn l-ispejjes kollha?

Qed tissemma ċ-ċifra ta’ nofs biljun ewro li fil-fehma ta’ ħafna għandha tinħareġ kollha, jew tal-inqas il-parti l-kbira minnha, mill-iżviluppaturi. Għax inkella ser nerġgħu nispiċċaw fis-sitwazzjoni li huma jimpalaw il-profitti, u ħaddieħor mit-taxxi jħallas il-kontijiet. Kontijiet li ġieli inħallsuhom b’saħħitna u drabi oħra billi t-taxxi tagħna jagħmlu tajjeb għall-ħtiġijiet tagħhom.

Il-President tal-Assoċjazzjoni tal-Iżviluppaturi Sandro Chetcuti diġà qal, li, fil-fehma tiegħu, jkun aħjar jekk l-ewwel issir l-infrastruttura u wara jsir l-iżvilupp propost. Dan ifisser ħaġa waħda: li l-iżviluppaturi jippretendu li l-investiment massiċċ meħtieġ fl-infrastruttura għandu jsir mill-Gvern, mit-taxxi li jiġbor. Għax taf inti, issa għandna Gvern pro-business u għalihom dan ifisser li l-Gvern qiegħed prinċipalment għas-servizz tagħhom!

Hemm punt ieħor ta’ importanza fundamentali. Il-pjan għal Paceville jitkellem fuq ħafna ħwejjeġ. Imma jħalli barra lir-residenti li joqgħodu hemm illum. Dawk huma l-istess nies li ilhom jaqilgħu ġo fihom snin twal. Il-masterplan ma jsemmihom imkien. Jinjorhom kompletament kif diġà ġara matul is-snin. Dan iwassal għall-konklużjoni inkwetanti li r-residenti li hemm illum m’humiex meqjusa li huma importanti għal min fassal il-pjan. Ovvja għaliex: għax il-pjan hu pro-business u jpoġġi lin-nies fil-ġemb. Għax lir-residenti jqishom xkiel billi dawn dejjem joġġezzjonaw, daqqa fuq  ħaġa u daqqa fuq oħra!

Dan it-tip ta’ ippjanar ma jagħmilx ġid u m’għandniex bżonnu. In-nies u l-ħtiġijiet tagħhom huma wara kollox il-qofol tal-ippjanar serju. Imma sfortunatament il-pjan għal Paceville hu mibni fuq pedamenti differenti. Għax il-filosofija tal-pjan hu li l-art, il-ġebel, il-konkos u l-azzar jiġu qabel in-nies.

Din hi triq li twassal għal Gvern li jaħdmek biex jistagħnew l-ispekulaturi. Inti trid li pajjiżna jkompli miexi f’din it-triq?

Ippubblikat f Illum : il-Ħadd 9 t’Ottubru 2016

 

Paceville Master Plan: greed or need?

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Land use planning is essentially public control over the use and development of land, so it necessarily follows that it should not be a speculators’ shopping list implemented by the state.

Unfortunately, the Paceville Master Plan is just such a shopping list as it collates together the requirements of nine mega-projects and presents them as a “master plan”. In fact Sandro Chetcuti, on behalf of the Malta Developers’ Association, reacted to the Master Plan by stating that it “ fails to address the possibility of new projects that could involve existing buildings and concentrated too much on nine particular sites.”   Mr Chetcuti’s Association is also feeling excluded.

And the residents have the same feeling; they have been excluded by a master plan which focuses on the interests of business – in particular  the interests of mega-speculators.

Not so long ago, in May 2012, The Social Affairs Committee of Malta’s Parliament  published a 63-page report on Paceville in which it emphasised the fact that right there, in the midst of this entertainment Mecca, there was also  a residential community. The conflicts between these two interests can at times be substantial and yet the Master Plan ignores these conflicts completely. The only residents in which the Master Plan is interested  are those who will purchase  apartments in the new developments.

The five over-arching objectives of the Master Plan emphasise the creation of a development vision which can be described in one word : “Dubai-ification”. Painted in glossy words as “Clear Brand and Identity” , “Access and Connectivity”,  “Planned and Managed Change”, “Quality Place-Making” and “Private-Public Partnerships”, at the end of the day “Dubai-ification” is what the Paceville Master Plan is all about.

The problems currently faced by Paceville are basically no different from those faced by other parts of Malta. Yet the Master Plan document wastes a substantial number of its 234 pages in order to emphasise the obvious. For example, it emphasises that Paceville is dominated by traffic and on-street parking. However, the consultants drawing up the plan then stopped short of proposing – as a preferred option –  measures that would  radically address the area’s dependence on cars. They did not choose the option to create an environment that is not dominated by the car, thus missing an opportunity to eliminate traffic congestion in Paceville that would have had the additional  benefit of improving local air quality.

While the Master Plan consultants went into great detail about issues that are covered in various national environmental policy documents, they did not consider it necessary to examine in any detail the area’s tourism-carrying capacity. The Master Plan does not examine whether it makes sense to keep on encouraging hotel construction in an area that is already saturated with such development. It takes the issue for granted and opts to propose reserving the Paceville coastline for future hotel redevelopment and expansion. This matter calls for some serious consideration, as tourism cannot continue on a never ending expanding trajectory due to the substantial environmental constraints which we face on a daily basis.

The cherry on the cake is the reference to “potential land reclamation” on the Portomaso site. The Master Plan warns that, though relatively shallow, the site lies very close to a Marine Special Conservation Area, a fact which necessitates a very sensitive approach.

The manner in which the Master Plan is presented tries to camouflage its obvious speculator “shopping list” features. Most of the projects indicated have been in the pipeline for years, and for each and every one of them there is a growing list of concerned residents from the whole of Paceville and neighbouring localities. By trying to present the mega-speculators greed as a national need the proposed Master Plan is doing a disservice to the never ending debate on land use planning in Malta.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday : 9 October 2016

Moving away from Ali Baba politics

 

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Way back in 2008 during the general election, Alternattiva Demokratika – The Green Party in Malta had put the issue of a possible parliamentary coalition on the national political agenda.

The PN, then, did its best to try and ridicule the proposal as it preferred to go it alone. At the end of the day, the PN just managed to scrape through the general election by the minimum of margins (1580 votes) on a national level. Eventually, however, it had to pay the consequences, as it ended up as a political hostage of a couple of unprincipled mavericks.

Simon Busuttil is trying not to repeat his predecessor’s mistake. He has called for the formation of a coalition against corruption, hoping that until the forthcoming general election, such a coalition will coalesce around the PN. This is similar to the strategy adopted by Joseph Muscat who transformed the Labour Party into what he described as a “movement”. In practice, however, Muscat’s endeavours have only transformed his Labour Party into a modern day version of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves!

To date, both the PN and the Labour Party have acted in such a way that the only coalition that made sense to them was the one within their own parties as both of them have over the years developed into grand coalitions, at times, championing diametrically opposed causes simultaneously.

However, coalitions are forged quite differently, at least those coalitions that are intended to contribute positively to the local political kaleidoscope.

The first foundation on which coalitions are built is reciprocal respect. Without reciprocal respect, those forming part of a coalition end up clowning around, trying to impress those around them with their buffoonery.

A second essential prerequisite for a coalition is an agreed political programme which clearly communicates the agreed common objectives of the coalition members. It would obviously be expected that members of such a coalition act in accordance to such an agreed political programme. Supporting environmental protection as an essential element of a programme to better everyone’s quality of life would undoubtedly feature in such an agreed political programme to which Alternattiva Demokratika could adhere. This would also be in line with the PN’s recent “conversion” in support of environmental activism.

It is not however clear how these newly discovered credentials of the PN are manifested by going around patting the management of Palumbo Shipyards and Malta Freeport Terminals on the back, congratulating them on their achievements which have inconvenienced their neighbours in the surrounding localities. This was recently done by the Leader of the Opposition Simon Busuttil during his visits to the Għajn Dwieli yard and the Kalafrana Terminal.

Consistency by the coalition members is not only desirable, it is an essential prerequisite for a coalition intended to last!

A coalition is not formed just to win an election. On the contrary, it seeks to win an election in order to be in a position to implement an agreed electoral programme. Winning an election is a means to an end and not an end in itself. It is for this reason that coalitions seek to bring together people and political parties who share a sufficient number of ideals on the basis of which they can construct a common electoral platform. Otherwise, what purpose would be served if those forming part of a coalition are not at ease with the new political environment which they seek to create?

For this specific reason, coalitions must be based on sound political principles. Having a coalition or a political party based on anything else is a recipe for the creation of an additional Ali Baba den, of which the present one is more than enough.

A solution to the current ethical crisis, which Malta’s political infrastructure is faced with, will not be delivered by a Parliament which is composed of only two political parties. This ethical crisis can only be overcome if more than two political parties make it to Parliament and if the winner-takes-all mentality and behaviour is consigned to the dustbin of history once and for all . This is both essential and possible without any changes to Malta’s electoral legislation and still allows for like-minded political parties to form a coalition.

It is important that those who have discarded good governance are set aside by the electorate in the forthcoming general election. It is however equally important that the machinery of government is never again entrusted into the hands of one single political party. In Malta’s particular circumstances only this can guarantee that good governance is placed on solid foundations.

published on The Malta Independent on Sunday : 2nd October 2016