U ajma, ħallini !

Ix-xhieda dettaljata u li tkexkex li ta fil-Qorti l-kuntistabbli Simon Schembri mit-taqsima tat-traffiku tal-korp tal-Pulizija, iktar kmieni din il-ġimgħa, turi min xiex jgħaddu wħud mill-pulizija fil-qadi ta’ dmirijiethom biex jipproteġuna. Fortunatament in-numru ta’ dawn l-inċidenti hu wieħed żgħir.

F’kull livell tal-korp tal-pulizija hemm irġiel u nisa ta’ dedikazzjoni kbira li fis-siegħa tal-prova taw servizz impekkabbli. Tul is-snin kellna numru ta’ pulizija li nqatlu fuq xogħolhom, u Simon Schembri jgħodda b’waħda li għal ftit ma ngħaqadx magħhom.

Iż-żamma tal-ordni pubbliku qatt mhi faċli minħabba li dejjem ser ikun hawn min iħares lejn il-pulizja bħala xkiel fil-fissazzjoni li jkollhom biex jagħmlu li jridu, meta jridu u kif iridu. “U ajma, ħallini” qal iż-żgħażugħ li wara pproċeda biex kaxkar lil Simon Schembri madwar 400 metru taħt il-Mercedes li kien qiegħed isuq. In-nuqqas ta’ rispett ta’ uħud, anke fis-sens wiesa’ tal-kelma, jwassal għal dawn iċ-ċirkustanzi, li fortunatament huma ftit. Dawn it-tip ta’ nies mhux jikkontestaw lill-awtoritá, imma jiddisprezzawha.

Il-poplu Malti għandu rispett lejn il-korp tal-pulizija għax b’mod ġenerali japprezza l-impenn u d-dedikazzjoni tal-membri tiegħu lejn il-komunitá. Il-Korp tal-Pulizija hu l-ewwel ħajt ta’ kenn li n-nies tfittex, u ħafna drabi, fid-diffikultajiet tal-ħajja ta’ kuljum dan il-kenn issibu.

Il-Union tal-Pulizija kif ukoll l-Assoċjazzjoni tal-Pulizija ġustament tkellmu dwar il-ħtieġa ta’ assigurazzjoni biex tipproteġi lill-Pulizija u lill-familji tagħhom meta dawn iweġġgħu jew jitilfu ħajjithom waqt il-qadi ta’ dmirijiethom. Dan hu tajjeb li jsir, u għandu jsir malajr kemm jista’ jkun. Imma iktar minn hekk hemm il-ħtieġa li possibilment ikunu evitati inċidenti ta’ din ix-xorta. Biex dan isir hemm bżonn iktar pulizija fuq ir-ronda kif ukoll li kull pulizija jkun akkumpanjat minn tal-inqas pulizija ieħor. Dan iservi biex kull pulizija jkun imwieżen direttament u mill-ewwel u allura bla dubju jonqsu l-inċidenti fejn tintuża’ l-vjolenza fuq il-pulizija waqt il-qadi ta’ dmirijiethom.

Il-Pulizija m’għandhomx jitħallew dipendenti fuq il-karitá, billi jkunu kostretti li jiġbru l-fondi b’sejħiet pubbliċi wara li jinqala’ incident. L-għajnuna għandha tkun ippjanat u għandha tieħu diversi forom. Għandha tkun għajnuna li primarjament tfittex li tevita l-inċidenti u dan permezz ta’ rinforzi, taħriġ kontinwu kif ukoll billi jkunu pprovduti r-riżorsi kollha meħtieġa. Hekk biss il-pulizija tista’ taqdi dmirha aħjar u fl-istess ħin tingħata protezzjoni adegwata.

Fix-xhieda mogħtija l-Qorti matul din il-ġimgħa mill-kuntistabbli Simon Schembri ntqal li personalment kien xtara elmu u uniformi superjuri fil-kwalitá għal dak li kien jipprovdilu l-korp. Ħadd s’issa għadu ma spjega għaliex il-korp ma jipprovdix lill-Pulizija bl-aqwa u l-aħjar mill-ewwel u minn fondi pubbliċi. Joħroġ ċar u bla dubju li l-kundizzjoni tal-kuntistabbli Schembri setgħet kienet ħafna agħar, kieku ma daħħalx idu fil-but.

Dawn huma uħud mill-affarijiet li jeħtieġ li jkunu rrimedjati. Lill-pulizija l-pajjiż għandu jagħtihom l-aħjar għodda biex jaqdu dmirhom biex fl-istess ħin ikun possibli li iħarsu persunthom bl-aħjar mod possibli.

Il-Pulizija ilhom jitolbu iktar biex ikunu jistgħu jaħdmu sewwa, fosthom il-body cams. Kien tajjeb li sa fl-aħħar, riċentment, fil-bidu tal-Lulju, intqal li l-Pulizija ser jibdew ikunu pprovduti b’dawn il-body cams. Suppost li ser jinbeda proġett pilota, eżattament fit-taqsima tat-traffiku li eventwalment għandu jwassal biex jinfirex fis-sezzjonijiet kollha tal-korp.

Il-parti l-kbira tal-membri tal-Korp tal-Pulizija huma dedikati għal xogħolhom. Hi ħasra li kultant ikun hemm minnhom, ġeneralment fizzjali, li ma jagħmlux xogħolhom sewwa u bħala riżultat jagħtu isem ħażin lill-korp kollu.

Tul is-snin il-Pulizija mhux dejjem kienu stmati tajjeb. Niftakru meta kien tneħħielhom id-dritt għall-pensjoni wara 25 sena servizz, biex eventwalment dan id-dritt reġa’ ngħatalhom lura wara numru ta’ snin. Anke d-dritt li jkunu msieħba fi Trade Union kien pass importanti ‘l-quddiem biex ikun assigurat li l-kundizzjonijiet li fihom jaħdmu l-Pulizija ikunu kontinwament taħt il-lenti, biex jitjiebu.

Hu tajjeb li nuru s-solidarjetá mal-Pulizija u l-familji tagħhom li jbatu konsegwenzi gravi riżultat tad-dedikazzjoni tagħhom għal dmirijiethom. Imma jkun ħafna aħjar jekk naħdmu iktar biex dawn il-konsegwenzi jkunu evitati.

Ippubblikat fuq Illum : Il-Ħadd 26 t’Awwissu 2018

 

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Protecting our boys (and girls) in blue

When Police Constable Simon Schembri from the Police Traffic Section took to the witness stand earlier this week, his thoroughly descriptive testimony was shocking. It described in considerable detail what some of our boys (and girls) in blue are up against when carrying out their duties to protect us. Fortunately, such incidents are not that common.

The Police Corps, at all levels, is replete with dedicated men and women who – in the hour of need – stood up to be counted in defence of our society. Over the years, a number of members of the police corps were murdered while on duty: Simon Schembri was lucky in that, notwithstanding his extensive injuries, he did not join that list.

Maintaining public order has never been an easy task, as there are always those who consider the police force as an obstacle preventing them from acting according to their whims. “Leave me alone” (u ajma ħallini) were the words attributed to the apprehended under-age driver who then proceeded to drag Simon Schembri some 400 metres underneath his Mercedes. This is the result of much more than a lack of respect. People like him, unfortunately, do not simply contest authority, they hold it in contempt.

The Maltese people generally respect members of the police force because they appreciate their dedication to the community they serve and because they are always there to serve when needed.

For some time, the Police Union, as well as the Police Association, have been talking about the need for insurance cover as a protective cushion for police officers who are injured on duty and also for the families of those officers who actually lose their lives in the course of their work. There is no doubt that this should be implemented as a mater of urgency.

However, while it is important to mitigate the impact of injury or death on duty it would obviously be preferable if action was taken to prevent such incidents happening in the first place.  One way would be to assign more officers on the beat, preferably with no policeman or woman being left on his or her own. This would reinforce policing and would inevitably lead to a reduction in the number of incidents in which police officers are faced with a violent reaction when carrying out their duties.

Police officers should not be dependent on charity through public requests for donations after a specific incident to help those who have been injured or the families of those who have been murdered. Such assistance should be pre-planned and it should primarily be prevention-oriented through reinforcement of the police beats, better training and a greater allocation of resources. This would ensure that police officers can carry out their duties in a manner which better ensures their own protection.

During the testimony of Police Constable Simon Schembri earlier this week it was revealed that, out of his own pocket, Schembri had purchased a helmet to use on duty which was of superior quality to that provided by the Police Corps, as well as a uniform made of more resistant material than the one provided. No one has so far explained why the Police Corps does not provide items of the best quality for our boys and girls in blue. This is what public funds are for. It is clear that the condition of Constable Schembri would have been much worse, had he not had the foresight to invest in his own safety.

These are some of the matters which need to be addressed. Our police officers deserve the best uniforms and equipment available. This will ensure that while they are striving to produce while on the frontline in our fight against crime, they themselves are also protected.

The Police Force has been requesting more resources for some considerable time. Body cams have been on this list for ages and it is therefore positive to note that, last month, it was announced that a pilot project for the introduction of body cams for use by police officers on duty was to be shortly implemented. The pilot project is to commence in the traffic section and it is hoped it will eventually spread throughout the police force.

Most of the members of the Police Force are dedicated to their duties. It is a pity that, occasionally, a handful of them put the Force in a bad light as a result of the way they act or react.

Police officers have not always been treated properly by the authorities. We remember when their right to a service pension after 25 years’ service was removed, only for it to be reintroduced a few years later. The right of policeman or woman to join a Trade Union is a recent positive development, serving as it does the purpose of ensuring that their conditions of work are kept under the spotlight and subject to continuous improvement.

It is fine to express our solidarity with members of our Police Force when, as a result of carrying out their duties, they suffer injuries or – even worse – sacrifice their lives. But it would be much better if we all worked tirelessly to ensure that these consequences are avoided as much as possible.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday : 26 August 2018

Birra togħma ta’ diesel

 

Id-deċiżjoni tal-Awtoritá tal-Artijiet, issa konfermata minn Tribunal Amministrattiv, li ma jagħtix permess lis-sidien il-Lukanda Waterfront dwar imwejjed u siġġijiet fuq il-bankina quddiem il-Lukanda hi deċiżjoni f’waqtha.

Hemm bosta kazjiet oħra fejn diġa ħarġu permessi li għandhom bżonn ikunu kkunsidrati mill-ġdid. Diversi huma l-kazi fejn l-imwejjed qegħdin eżattament mal-karozzi, bosta drabi jieħu ukoll post ta’ xi parkeġġ jew tnejn.

X’ġost ikun fih platt spaghetti togħma ta’ petrol, jew birra togħma ta’ diesel?

Ma jitgħallmu qatt! (ara ukoll artiklu fuq l-istess suġġett miktub tlett snin ilu: hawn)

Ftit ħsibijiet wara t-traġedja f’Ġenova

Wara l-kollass tal-pont f’Ġenova hemm numru ta’ lezzjonijiet, anke għalina, mijiet ta’ kilometri ‘l bogħod mill-pont Morandi.

Minkejja li l-investigazzjonijiet uffiċjali dwar l-għaliex seħħ dan il-kollass tal-pont għadhom bil-kemm bdew, il-media Taljana diġá qed tiddiskuti dak li ġara fid-dettall. Il-pontijiet kollha fl-Italja qegħdin taħt il-lenti, b’mod partikolari dawk li hu magħruf li m’humiex f’kundizzjoni tajba u li allura jistgħu, f’qasir żmien jikkollassaw huma ukoll. Dan jassumi sinifikat ikbar meta wieħed iqis li f’dawn l-aħħar ħames snin, fl-Italja, diġa ikkollassaw seba’ pontijiet oħra, u qiesu ma ġara xejn!

Bla dubju, fost il-lezzjonijiet ewlenin, jeħtieġ nifhmu l-ħtieġa li nieħdu ħsieb u nikkuraw b’mod adegwat il-proġetti pubbliċi. Għax anke f’Malta, wara li l-proġetti pubbliċi jkunu saru, ħafna drabi ftit nagħtu kas tagħhom. Ħarsa ftit lejn il-flyover li tifforma parti mill-bypass tal-Marsa/Ħal-Qormi kif inhi illum, tkun biżżejjed, avolja kif ħabbret Infrastruttura Malta nhar il-Ġimgħa ma hemm l-ebda ħsara strutturali. Huwa biss issa li tħabbar li ser jibda programm ta’ manutenzjoni, issa li n-nies, wara l-istraġi ta’ Ġenova, bdiet tistaqsi l-mistoqsijiet. Forsi, min jaf, mil-lum il-quddiem jibda jkollna skeda regolari ta’ manutenzjoni tal-proġetti pubbliċi kollha. Forsi xi darba l-mini ta’ Santa Venera ma jibqgħux iqattru.

Hemm ukoll x’jingħad dwar il-governanza tajba fil-proġetti pubbliċi.

Deċiżjoni riċenti tal-bord li jirrevedi l-kuntratti pubblici (Public Contracts Review Board) hi ta’ tħassib kbir. L-għoti tal-kuntratt għall-bini u t-tkomplija taċ-Ċentru tas-Saħħa f’Raħal Ġdid ġie mwaqqaf wara li Public Contracts Review Board esprima dubji serji fuq kif tmexxew il-proċeduri tal-evalwazzjoni tal-offerti. Fil-fatt ġie identifikat li żewġ professjonisti (inġinier u Perit) kienu konsulenti kemm tal-Fondazzjoni tas-Servizzi Mediċi tal-Ministeru tas-Saħħa kif ukoll ta’ tnejn minn dawk li tefgħu l-offerti. Fil-fehma tiegħi huwa diffiċli ferm biex nifhem kif ħadd mill-Fondazzjoni għas-Servizzi Mediċi ma nduna b’dan il-konflitt ta’ interess. Kont nistenna xi ħaġa aħjar mill-Fondazzjoni, għax jidher li ftit li xejn qed jagħtu importanza lill-ħtieġa ta’ governanza tajba fil-ħidma tal-fondazzjoni.

Issa li l-Public Contracts Review Board ħa deċiżjoni nistenna li l-korpi professjonali li jirregolaw l-inginiera u l-periti jeżaminaw sewwa l-kaz biex jaraw x’passi għandhom jieħdu f’dak li hu ksur ta’ etika professjonali bażika.

Il-kontroll adegwat tal-materjali li jintużaw fuq is-sit ta’ kostruzzjoni hi materja oħra ta’ importanza fundamentali. Din mill-ewwel tfakkarni fl-investigazzjoni li saret dwar il-kwalitá tal-konkos użat fl-isptar Mater Dei. Anke hawn kienet responsabbli l-Fondazzjoni għas-Servizzi Mediċi. Dwar dan ma kienx hemm biss l-inkjesta li saret taħt it-tmexxija tal-Imħallef irtirat Philip Sciberras imma ukoll rapport tal-Awditur Ġenerali fuq talba tal-Ministru tal-Finanzi. Dan ir-rapport kien konkluż u ippubblikat f’Mejju li għadda.

Niftakru li l-Awditur Ġenerali fir-rapport tiegħu kien emfasizza li rriżultalu li kien hemm nuqqas kbir ta’ dokumentazzjoni dwar kull stadju tal-proġett (significant lack of documentation with respect to all stages of the project). Dan wassal lill-istess Awditur Ġenerali biex jikkonkludi li “l-inkapaċita tal-Fondazzjoni li tipprovdi l-informazzjoni bażika dwar proġett ta’ dan il-kobor ifisser falliment istituzzjonali u negliġenza grassa fl-amministrazzjoni ta’ fondi pubbliċi” (the Foundation’s inability to provide basic information relating to a project of this magnitude represents an institutional failure and gross negligence in the administration of public funds).

Min-naħa l-oħra, anke l-inkjesta immexxija mill-Imħallef irtirat Philip Sciberras identifikat nuqqasijiet kbar li dwarhom irrakkomandat li jittieħdu passi.

In partikolari qed nara quddiemi l-konklużjoni numru 5 tar-rapport Sciberras li tgħid li “in-nuqqasijiet gravi li nkixfu bir-rapporti tekniċi tal-lum jindikaw li l-konkos dgħajjef li nstab f’kull parti tas-sit hu riżultat intenzjonat ta’ azzjonijiet bi skop ta’ frodi. Il-Bord ifforma l-impressjoni ċara li l-ġrajjet li wasslu għal dan ma kienux riżultat ta’ koinċidenza, lanqas ma kienu providenzjali, imma warajhom kien hemm id moħbija li tagħti direzzjoni.” (the widespread failings uncovered by the present day technical reports indicate that the pervasive weak concrete found in the site is a result of intended fraudulent actions. Moreover the Board is left with a distinct impression that events as they transpired were not the fruit of coincidence or providence but seem to indicate an element of concertation and direction.)

Ma tantx jidher li sar wisq dwar dawn ir-rakkomandazzjonijiet. X’qed nistennew? Li jaqa’ x’imkien?

Hemm tagħlim waħda bażika minn Ġenova: in-nuqqas ta’ governanza tajba tista’ twassal ukoll għall-imwiet.

Ippubblikat f’Illum : 19 t’Awwissu 2018

Lessons from the Genova bridge collapse

The collapse of the Morandi bridge in Genova should lead to a number of lessons which have an application hundreds of kilometres away from Genova.

Notwithstanding the fact that the official investigations into the bridge collapse have barely commenced, the media in Italy is discussing the possible causes of the collapse and whether there are any other bridges on the Italian mainland that may shortly have a similar fate. The fact that there have been some seven other bridge collapses in Italy during the past five years adds more fuel to this debate.

Among the many lessons to be learnt is the need to ensure adequate maintenance of public structures at all times. How does Malta score? Not very well, I would say. Have a look at the bridge forming part of the Marsa/Qormi flyover. It does not send out a good message even if, as stated by Infrastructure Malta on Friday, the flyover is structurally safe. The authorities in Malta have only announced the commencement of a maintenance programme for this bridge when questions began being asked as a result of the Genova tragedy.

Hopefully we will henceforth have regular maintenance schedules of all public structures and,  maybe, someday the dripping Santa Venera tunnels will be seen to permanently!

What about good governance in tenders for public projects? A recent decision by the Public Contracts Review Board is cause for concern. The award of the contract for the building and finishing of a health centre in Paola was halted by this Board after serious doubts regarding the evaluation procedure were raised. In fact, two professionals (an engineer and an architect) were identified as being simultaneously advisors of the Health Ministry’s Foundation for Medical Services as well as two of the three tenderers. It is, in my opinion, very difficult to understand how nobody at the Foundation for Medical Services was aware of this glaring conflict of interest. Good governance is apparently not the Foundation’s strong point.

Now that the Public Contracts Review Board has decided the case, I would expect that the professional bodies regulating the professionals involved take appropriate action on what is clearly a very serious breach of professional ethics.

Adequate quality control of materials used on site is another fundamental issue. The investigations regarding the quality of concrete used in the construction of the Mater Dei Hospital project comes to mind. The Foundation for Medical Services was also responsible for this project.

This issue has been dealt with not only by an inquiry led by retired judge Philip Sciberras but also by a report drawn up by the Auditor General at the request of the Finance Minister, which was concluded and published last May.

We may remember that, in the Auditor General’s report, it was emphasised that he found a “significant lack of documentation with respect to all stages of the project”. This led the Auditor General to conclude that “the Foundation’s inability to provide basic information relating to a project of this magnitude represents an institutional failure and gross negligence in the administration of public funds”.

On the other hand, the inquiry led by retired judge Philip Sciberras also identified various deficiencies in respect of which it recommended that action be taken.

I point in particular to conclusion No. 5 of the Sciberras report which states that : “the widespread failings uncovered by the present day technical reports indicates that the pervasive weak concrete found in the site is a result of intended fraudulent actions. Moreover, the Board is left with a distinct impression that events as they transpired were not the fruit of coincidence or providence but seem to indicate an element of concertation and direction.”

Apparently, not much has been done to date regarding the  implementation of the recommendations of these reports. Shall we wait for our own bridge collapse before action?

There is one basic lesson to be learnt from the Genova tragedy: a lack of good governance is a potential killer.

Published in The Malta Independent on Sunday : 19 August 2018

Ftit ħsibijiet wara l-istraġi ta’ Genova

Wara l-istraġi ta’ Genova bla dubju it-Taljani ser jippruvaw jitgħallmu l-lezzjonijiet li s’issa ma rnexxielhomx jitgħallmu, sforz amminstrazzjoni ġeneralment inkompetenti u korruzzjoni fl-għoti tal-kuntratti.

L-investigazzjoni dwar x’wassal għall-kollass tal-pont għadha fil-bidu. Il-pont ilu hemm iktar minn 50 sena u bla dubju kemm saret (jew kemm ma saritx) maintenance adegwata tul is-snin ser tkun materja fundamentali fl-investigazzjoni. Anke l-fatt li l-pont kien ilu daqstant snin, hu fattur, għax probabbilment messhom ilhom li ittieħdu passi biex il-pont jinbidel għax il-konkos tiegħu bla dubju għejja u per konsegwenza ddgħajjef wara dan is-snin kollu fl-użu.

F’dan il-kuntest ikun tajjeb li flok il-konkos ta’ Genova niftakru ftit fil-konkos ta’ Mater Dei. Dwar dan hemm mhux biss ir-rapport tal-awditur ġenerali, ppubblikat f’Mejju li għadda, imma ukoll ir-rapport tal-inkjesta immexxija mill-Imħallef irtirat Philip Sciberras.

Ikun tajjeb li niftakru li fir-rapport tal-Awditur Ġenerali kien ġie emfasizzat li kien hemm nuqqas ta’ dokumentazzjoni li hi tant essenzjali biex tingħata l-assigurazzjoni li proġett ta’ dan il-kobor sar sewwa.

Min-naħa l-oħra r-rapport tal-inkjesta immexxija minn Philip Sciberras kien identifika diversi nuqqasijiet li dwarhom irrakkomanda li jittieħdu passi.

Wara l-istraġi ta’ Genova għandna kull dritt nistaqsu: x’passi ittieħdu dwar ir-rapporti fuq il-konkos ta’ Mater Dei? Għax jekk ma jittieħdux il-passi neċessarji, dawn l-affarijiet ser jibqgħu jirrepetu ruħhom.

Fejn qegħda l-washing machine?

 

L-Independent u l-Malta Today, illum, ġiebu artikli dwar l-investigazzjonijiet li għaddejjin f’Miami dwar ħasil ta’ flus taż-żejt mill-Veneżwela.

Qed jissemmew diversi ċifri. Din storja li ilha għaddejja. Komplessivament tista’ tlaħħaq ċifra ta’ $1.2 biljun.

Qed jiġi allegat li €511 miljun minn din is-somma inħaslet Malta.

L-investigazzjoni ilha għaddejja. Id-Dipartiment tal-Ġustizzja tal-Istati Uniti fi stqarrija datata 25 ta’Lulju 2018 intitolata : Two Members of Billion-Dollar Venezuelan Money Laundering Scheme Arrested  tgħid li “Maltese law enforcement authorities provided assistance”.

L-unika ħaġa li nafu konnessa mal-Veneżwela hu li xi ġimgħat ilu kienet sospiża il-licenzja ta’ bank f’Malta wara li kienu nbdew proċeduri kriminali fl-Istati Uniti dwar allegazzjonijiet oħra imma li ukoll kienu jikkoncernaw il-Venezwela.

Hemm xi rabta? X’inhu jiġri? Naħseb li jixirqilna nkunu nafu.

Il-mina bejn Malta u Għawdex: il-qerda finali t’Għawdex wara l-bieb

Nhar l-Erbgħa festa pubblika. Hi ukoll id-data tal-egħluq għall-konsultazzjoni pubblika li qed tagħmel l-Awtoritá tal-Ambjent u r-Riżorsi (ERA) fuq it-termini ta’ referenza għall-istudju dwar l-impatt ambjentali (EIA) tal-mina proposta bejn Malta u Għawdex.

Is-sit elettroniku tal-ERA jippreżenta żewġ dokumenti sabiex jassistu lil dawk li qed jipparteċipaw f’din il-konsultazzjoni pubblika. Dawn id-dokumenti jispjegaw il-proposta u jidentifikaw numru ta’ fatturi li jistgħu jkunu jeħtieġu investigazzjoni, u dan biex dawk li jieħdu d-deċiżjoni jkunu megħjuna jagħmlu l-“aħjar” għażla.

F’dawn id-dokumenti hemm numru ta’ nuqqasijiet li jistunaw u juru kemm Transport Malta tiġi taqa’ u tqum mill-wirt ambjentali tagħna.

Transport Malta tibbaża l-proposti tagħha fuq ir-rapport ta’ Mott MacDonald, datat Marzu 2012 u intitolat: Preliminary Analysis: Assessment of Road Tunnel Options between Malta and Gozo. Wara li kkunsidrat erba’ proposti differenti għall-mina kif imfisser fir-rapport ta’ Mott MacDonald, Transport Malta ddeċidiet li tagħżel il-proposta numru 4 b’emenda: hi proposta li tkun tikkonsisti f’mina waħda b’żewġ karreġjati u tibda mill-inħawi taħt Ta’ Kenuna fin-Nadur Għawdex u tispiċċa fl-Imbordin biswit il-Wied tal-Pwales f’San Pawl il-Baħar.

Fid-dokumenti jgħidulna li l-ewwel tliet proposti kienu skartati għax setgħu jikkawżaw ħsara ambjentali sostanzjali, f’qiegħ il-baħar jew lir-riżerva naturali tal-Għadira. Imma la Transport Malta u l-anqas l-ERA ma ħassew il-ħtieġa li jgħidulna fid-dokumenti li ippubblikaw li meta ntagħżlet il-proposta numru 4 u ġġebbdet sal-Imbordin biswit il-Wied tal-Pwales din ġiet viċin wisq tar-riżerva naturali l-oħra, tas-Simar, u tgħaddi dritt mill-Miżieb, mal-pjan tal-ilma.

Ir-riżerva naturali tas-Simar hi sit ikklassifikat bħala Natura 2000 tal-UE, u l-pjan tal-ilma tal-Miżieb hu l-unika wieħed sura li fadlilna. Allura hemm il-possibilitá kbira li din il-proposta għal mina tmur kontra żewġ direttivi importanti tal-Unjoni Ewropea: id-Direttiva Qafas dwar l-Ilma u d-Direttiva dwar il-Abitat.

Fl-2015 il-medja ta’ movimenti ta’ karozzi bejn Malta u Għawdex, kif jirriżulta mill-istatistika uffiċjali, hi ta’ madwar 3000 kuljum. Id-diversi studji u rapporti ppubblikati sal-lum jikkalkulaw li l-mina, meta tkun lesta, tista’ twassal sabiex in-numru ta’ karozzi li jaqsmu bejn iż-żewġ gżejjer jitla’ bejn 9000 u 10000 kuljum. Gordon Cordina minn Ecubed fir-rapport tiegħu kkummissjonat minn Transport Malta u l-Kamra tal-Kummerċ Għawdxija jindika li ser tintlaħaq iċ-ċifra ta’ 9000 karozza kuljum, fil-waqt li r-rapport Mott MacDonald jipponta lejn l-10,000 karozza kuljum.

Din iż-żieda konsiderevoli fil-moviment ta’ karozzi teħtieġ li tkun analizzata fil-kuntest tal-politika kurrenti dwar it-trasport. Il-master plan dwar it-trasport addottat mill-Gvern preżenti u ffinanzjat mill-Fond Ewropew għall-Iżvilupp Reġjonali hu ċar. Dan il-pjan jgħid li matul l-għaxar snin li fih ser ikun effettiv (2016-25), wieħed mill-oġġettivi ewlenin tal-politika tat-trasport f’Malta hi emfasi fuq l-użu ta’ mezzi alternattivi għall-karozzi privati u li fil-gżejjer Maltin jonqos l-użu tal-karozza privata.

Mela Transport Malta, għan-nom tal-Gvern Malti fl-2016, tistabilixxi politika dwar it-trasport biex tkun indirizzata l-konġestjoni tat-traffiku billi tinkoraġixxi bdil fl-imġieba favur mobilitá sostenibbli, u mbagħad toħroġ bi proposti bħal dawn tal-mina bejn Malta u Għawdex, li biex jagħmlu sens, jirrikjedu żieda enormi fit-traffiku.

Id-dokumenti fuq is-sit elettroniku tal-ERA għall-informazzjoni ta’ dawk li jridu jipparteċipaw f’din il-konsultazzjoni pubblika dwar il-mina bejn Malta u Għawdex jinjoraw kompletament il-politika dwar it-trasport.

Din hi s-sitwazzjoni li għandna illum. Drajna b’awtoritá tal-ippjanar sinkronizzata mal-lobby favur l-iżvilupp. Sfortunatament jidher li l-Awtoritá dwar l-Ambjent u r-Riżorsi miexja fuq l-istess passi. Il-jiem huma magħduda. Bla dubju dan ser iwassal għall-qerda ta’ Għawdex ukoll.

 

Ippubblikat fuq Illum : Il-Ħadd 12 t’Awwissu 2018

Iż-żwiemel bil-pensjoni !

Dan l-aħħar kellna żewġ inċidenti fit-toroq li kienu jinvolvu ż-żwiemel. Żewġt iżwiemel tal-karozzini kkollassaw fit-triq. Wieħed minnhom miet.

Bla dubju ix-xemx qalila ma tagħmel ġid lil ħadd, l-anqas liż-żwiemel.

L-għaqda favur il-ħarsien tal-annimali Animal Liberation Malta ħadet l-opportunitá biex tiġbed l-attenzjoni tal-pubbliku fuq il-ħtieġa li nagħtu iktar każ ta’ x’inhu jiġri.

Bla dubju l-ewwel pass hu li l-annimali, f’dan il-kaz iż-żwiemel, ma jiġux imħaddma f’kundizzjonijiet kiefra. Għax dawn iż-żwiemel, fil-qilla tax-xemx, fuq asphalt jikwi jkun jeħtieġilhom jiġbdu karozzin b’piz mhux żgħir. Il-fuq fit-telgħa, jew l-isfel fin-niżla.

Trid ferm iktar minn saħħa ta’ żiemel għal dan ix-xogħol.

Permezz tal-veterinarji tiegħu l-Gvern għandu jirregola ftit is-sitwazzjoni. F’dawn il-kundizzjonijiet ta’ sħana tremenda m’għandux ikollna karozzini fit-toroq tagħna.

M’għandi l-ebda dubju li l-parti l-kbira tas-sidien taż-żwiemel jieħdu ħsiebhom, ħafna drabi qieshom membri addizzjonali tal-familja. Imma jibqa’ l-fatt li għalihom iż-żiemel huwa ukoll il-mezz tal-għixien. Anke huma għandhom bżonn l-għajnuna biex l-għixien tagħhom ma jibqax dipendenti fuq it-tbatija tal-annimali.

Huwa l-mument li l-istat jintervjeni biex din is-soċjetá li tħoss u tħenn tieħu ħsieb sewwa ukoll taż-żwiemel li jkun waslilhom iż-żmien li joħorġu bil-pensjoni.

The Malta-Gozo tunnel: the final countdown to Gozo’s plunder starts now

Next Wednesday is a public holiday. It is also the closing date of the public consultation being carried out by the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) on the terms of reference for the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to be carried out on the proposed Malta-Gozo tunnel.

The ERA website presents two documents to assist those participating in the public consultation. These documents explain the proposal and highlight a number of issues that will require further investigation in order to assist the decision-takers in choosing for the “optimum” solution.

There is a number of glaring deficiencies in these documents which indicate the contempt that Transport Malta has for our environmental heritage.

Transport Malta bases its proposals on the Mott MacDonald Report of March 2012 entitled: Preliminary Analysis: Assessment of Road Tunnel Options between Malta and Gozo. After considering the four options for a tunnel as resulting from the Mott MacDonald report, Transport Malta opted for an amended version of option number 4 which is proposed as consisting of a single bore two lane tunnel between the area below Ta’ Kenuna in Nadur, Gozo and L-Imbordin along the Pwales Valley in St Paul’s Bay in Malta.

We are told in the published documentation that the first three options were discarded because they could be the cause of considerable environmental damage to the seabed, as well as to the Għadira Nature Reserve. However, neither Transport Malta nor the ERA considered it appropriate to mention that the selected option, an amended option 4, stretches the Malta portal of the proposed tunnel to the Pwales valley very close to the Simar Nature Reserve and right through the Miżieb perched aquifer.

The Simar Nature Reserve is an EU Natura 2000 site, while the Miżieb perched aquifer is the only part of our water table that is still in a relatively good state. Consequently, two important EU Directives will most probably be infringed: The Water Framework Directive and the Habitats Directive.

Based on NSO statistics, in 2015 average number of daily vehicular crossings between Malta and Gozo was around 3,000. The various studies and reports published to date indicate that it is estimated that a tunnel between the two islands would trigger an increase to between 9,000 and 10,000 vehicle crossings daily. Gordon Cordina of Ecubed in his report commissioned by Transport Malta and the Gozo Business Chamber indicates a 9,000-daily mark, while Mott MacDonald points towards the 10,000 mark.

This considerable increase in vehicular movements needs to be analysed in terms of current transport policy. The Transport Master Plan, adopted by the current government and funded by the European Regional Development Fund, is very clear. It lays down that during its 10-year lifespan (2016-25) it will be an operational objective of transport policy in Malta to aim to provide alternatives to the use of private vehicles and to reduce the role of the private car as a means of transport in the Maltese Islands.

So, Transport Malta, on behalf of the Maltese government, spells out transport policy in 2016 aimed at addressing traffic congestion in Malta by encouraging a modal shift towards sustainable mobility. Yet it then comes out with proposals such as the Malta-Gozo Tunnel, which can only be feasible if there is an astronomical increase in vehicular traffic on our roads.

The documents placed by the ERA on its website to feed the public consultation process on the proposed Malta-Gozo tunnel ignore transport policy altogether.

This is the current state of affairs. By now we are accustomed to having a Planning Authority acting in synch with the development lobby. Unfortunately, it seems that the Environment and Resources Authority is closely following in its footsteps. The final countdown is on. It will inevitably lead to the plunder of Gozo as well.

Published in The Malta Independent on Sunday : 12 August 2018