Bloodshed in Bidnija

 

Daphne is dead, brutally murdered in a hamlet few people outside Malta had ever heard of before. The initial shock left us dumbstruck. Before we had gathered our thoughts, the PN had returned to its assault on the government based on allegations of sleaze, cronyism, poor governance and erosion of the rule of law.

The voice of prudence and moderation was never given a chance.

So far, nobody has a clue who killed Daphne, except her killers. The notional responsibility of every government for everything that happens in its jurisdiction has been stretched to include an assassination which most probably could not have been prevented by a democratic government tuned to perfection and a police force with every resource possible and imaginable.

We have been wounded collectively but we are being invited, coerced even, to fragment. Accusations fly, allegations are remade and attached by unfathomable logic to the awful event. Is this what we were expected to do, instantly to turn on one another? By whom?

Nobody has accused the government of having a hand in Daphne’s murder. Nobody has dared because it would be counter-productive. A government having just won a landslide victory, almost disoriented by a floored and self-harming Opposition would not invent such a nightmare for itself. So, because it is impossible to accuse the government directly, the next best thing is to accuse indirectly, to inflate notional responsibility to actual responsibility, to demand resignations that will not happen and foment an atmosphere of profound discontent.

It is an understatement to say that the reaction of the Adrian Delia’s PN to Daphne’s murder is disappointing. We had a right to expect sobriety, moderation, prudence, even a truce in the endless feud. Instead we had a scandalous populist exploitation of a crime of historic proportions.

Nobody in his right mind suspects that the Government had a hand in Daphne’s murder. Despite the very public excoriation suffered by Adrian Delia at the hands of Daphne during the PN leadership race, nobody in his right mind could suspect Adrian Delia of assassination. How about one of their henchmen unhinged? Possible – but not plausible: a political motive for the murder seems farfetched.

Something more personal involving great financial loss, perhaps imprisonment for a merciless criminal seems far more plausible. We have been thrown head first into the “what if” season and among all the “what ifs”, this seems to be the best bet.

But there is worse, far worse, to contemplate. What if Daphne’s killers simply picked her for her prominence? What if she is collateral damage in an attack on Malta? It took decades for evidence to emerge that Italy’s anni di piombo had been largely orchestrated by the CIA. The terrorists at both extremes of the Italian political spectrum never suspected that they had been so deftly manipulated into turning their country into a war zone. Today the CIA should have no interest in destabilizing Malta but the game they played could be played by others.

What if Daphne and Malta are both victims in a larger game? In this scenario, the devil in the piece has to be Russia and its geo-political interest in the Mediterranean. Profoundly humiliated by the West’s role in the Arab Spring, it has kept Assad in place in Syria against all comers at the cost of hundreds of thousands dead and millions reduced to refugee status. Did the Kremlin pick Malta and Daphne in Malta to show the EU that it could destabilize a member state? Our government may have achieved more prominence than is good for us when it supported the Russian embargo and when it refused to refuel the Russian fleet on its way to Syria. Perhaps the Russians are innocent, but this is the “what if” season and they must forgive us for not excluding them.

What is certain is that this is a time for prudence, for moderate discourse, for credible leadership. We are all called upon to avoid playing the killers’ game. Upping the ante in the wake of an event such as this is the last thing we should be doing. We should not be turning the country into a political powder keg. Only our enemies, as ruthless as Daphne’s killers, would want us to do so.

Defeated as they are, the PN owe the country responsible leadership appropriate to the grave circumstances of the moment. The government owes the country a steady hand at the helm and consideration of the long-term reforms that will give us the resilience to face an assault such as Daphne’s assassination without the fear of destabilization.

Duopoly makes us vulnerable, authentic democracy could make us less of a target of choice.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday 29 October 2017

Id-dmugħ tal-kukkudrill u l-qtil ta’ Daphne

Inkitbu numru kbir ta’ artikli dwar il-qtil ta’ Daphne nhar it-Tnejn li għadda, meta l-karozza li kienet qed issuq ġiet sploduta f’elf biċċa. Tfasslu bosta tejoriji dwar l-identità u l-motiv ta’ dawk li ppjanaw u/jew esegwew dan il-qtil. Mhux ħa nżid mal-ispekulazzjoni.

Bħal bosta oħrajn, tul is-snin jiena ukoll kelli l-possibiltà li nsegwi l-kitbiet tagħha. Bosta minnhom sibthom mill-iktar informattivi. Il-kapaċitajiet investigattivi tagħha kienu fost l-aqwa fil-ġurnaliżmu Malti. L-argumenti tagħha kienu dejjem qawwija, għalkemm il-preġudizzji tagħha dejjem kienu ċari. Kienet kapaċi talterna bejn artikli investigattivi ta’ l-għola livell ma oħrajn li jivvilifikaw lil dawk fil-mira tagħha.

L-opinjonijiet politiċi tagħha kienu dejjem ċari u hi dejjem mexxiethom ‘il quddiem b’qawwa kbira. Sa’ Ġunju 2017 injorat il-parti l-kbira tad-dnubiet tal-PN u iffukat bla ħniena fuq dawk tal-PL. Wara Ġunju 2017, kif kien jixirqilhom, poġġiethom flimkien f’qoffa waħda u b’hekk tat iktar kredibilità lil min jgħid li m’hemmx x’tagħżel bejn il-PN u l-PL.

Dwar Alternattiva Demokratika kitbet bosta drabi: kritika f’mumenti delikati fejn il-posizzjoni politika ta’ AD kienet f’kuntrast ma dik tal-PN. Drabi oħra, meta dehrilha, għamlet użu mill-fehmiet ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika kif kien jaqbel biex issaħħaħ l-argumenti tagħha.

Il-qtil tagħha hu daqqa ta’ ħarta għal-libertà tal-espressjoni f’Malta.

Kien hemm bosta opportunitajiet oħra fejn kien hemm min jipprova jagħlqiha ħalqa permezz ta’ numru esaġerat ta’ kawżi ta’ libel. Reċentement sar attentat biex permezz ta’ mekkaniżmu legali eżistenti ġew iffriżati l-kontijiet bankarji tagħha bħala garanzija għad-danni li kienu qed jintalbu. Sfortunatament il-Qrati ma irrealizzawx in-natura reali ta’ din l-azzjoni intimidatorja. L-impatt ta’ din l-azzjoni kien imxejjen biss wara li irnexxiet l-inizzjattiva ta’ crowd funding organizzata minn David Thake. B’hekk l-azzjoni intimidatorja tal-Ministru Cardona u l-konsulenti legali tiegħu kważi sfatt fix-xejn.

Adrian Delia, l-Kap tal-Opposizzjoni, li ukoll kien taħt il-lenti tagħha għal dawn l-aħħar erba’ xhur, kif jidher minn l-aħħar diskors tiegħu, qed ifittex x’vantaġġ politiku jista’ jakkwista l-partit tiegħu minn dan il-qtil. Jidher li jixtieq li ninsew li hu ukoll ta kontibut biex inġemgħu t-turrun libelli fil-konfront tagħha. Li iritirhom iktar kmieni din il-ġimgħa mhu xejn għajr ipokrezija grassa.

Dan hu essenzjalment dak li hemm mistoħbi wara t-tixrid tad-dmugħ tal-kukkudrilli ta’ uħud minn dawk li qed jgħidu li huma maħsudin b’dan il-qtil.

Il-Pulizija bdew l-investigazzjonijiet tagħhom. It-talba li saret għall-għajnuna ta’ esperti barranin hi utli għax tista’ tkun l-assigurazzjoni meħtieġa biex kull indikazzjoni tkun esplorata u investigata. Imma l-investigazzjoni għal ftit ma bdietx bil-banda għax il-Maġistrat Consuelo Scerri Herrera damet ma ndunat li hemm ma kienx postha. Il-fatt li damet is-siegħat biex irrealizzat dan juri li uħud mill-membri tal-ġudikatura għad għandhom ħafna x’jitgħallmu.

Il-presenza tal-Maġistrat Scerri Herrera fil-Bidnija ħasdet lil kulħadd hekk kif waslet. Ftit wara l-ħasda kibret minħabba l-kummenti fuq Facebook ta’ surgent mit-tim investigattiv tal-Pulizja li ried jiċċelebra l-avvenimenti li kien qed jara. Il-fatt li ġie sospiż u ser jgħaddi passi dixxiplinari mhux biżżejjed. Għad hemm ħtieġa ta’ spjegazzjoni mingħand il-Kummissarju tal-Pulizja dwar il-għala xi membri tal-Korp għadhom ma rrealizzawx li l-presenza tagħhom fuq il-media soċjali hi ta’ ħsara għall-kredibilità u l-imparzjalità tagħhom u tal-Korp tal-Pulizija kollu.

Imma mid-dehra mhux is-surġent tal-Pulizija biss ħass li kellu bżonn jiċċelebra nhar it-Tnejn waranofsinnhar. X’ser jgħidulna dwar il-carcades li saru, anke jekk kienu ftit? Min ser jassumi r-responsabbiltà għalihom?

Il-Prim Ministru hu anzjuż biex il-każ jissolva malajr kemm jista’ jkun. Ilkoll għandna l-istess xewqa u iktar ma dan iseħħ malajr, aħjar għal kulħadd. Imma, meta l-każ jingħalaq ikun il-waqt li nstaqsu jekk dan kollu setax ikun evitat. Għax bla dubju seta kien evitat.

 

 

 

ippubblikat f’Illum – 22 t’Ottubru 2017

Crocodile tears and the assassination of Daphne

Countless articles and opinions have been written about Daphne’s assassination last Monday, when the car she was driving was blown to smithereens.

Many theories have been woven as to the possible identity and motivation of those who planned and/or executed her assassination. I will not add to the speculation.

Like many others, I followed her writings through the years and found most of them informative. In the Maltese journalist community, her investigative skills were second to none. Her arguments were always very forceful even though a bias was always clearly present. She could alternate between well-written, clearly thought out and investigative articles and pure invective aimed at those she despised.

Her underlying political views were always clear and she promoted them mercilessly. Until June 2017, she ignored most of the sins of the PN and focused relentlessly on those of the PL. After June 2017 she practically lumped them both together in one basket, as they deserved, lending credence to the statement that there is nothing to distinguish the PN from the PL.

As for AD, it was one of her punching bags when it suited her, in particular at those critical political junctures where AD’s views and positions contrasted sharply with those of the PN. At other times, when she found AD’s views useful, she used them to buttress her own.

Her assassination is a direct blow against freedom of expression in Malta.

Various other attempts have been made to shut her up through the countless actions in court for civil damages. An attempt was made to cripple her financially with a legal mechanism, insisting that the claimed civil damages be deposited in Court when legal action is initiated. This was an attempt at intimidation which, unfortunately, the Law Courts did not see through. The attempt was only thwarted through the initiative of David Thake who organised crowd funding of the sums requested, thus short-circuiting the bully-boy tactics of Minister Cardona and his lawyers.

The Leader of the Opposition, Adrian Delia, having been under her spotlight for the past four months is now apparently out to milk her assassination for his party’s political gain, as is evidenced by his speeches earlier this week. He seems to want us to forget that he too was a contributor to the pile of actions for libel submitted against her. Their withdrawal this week smells of crass hypocrisy.

This is essentially the background to the crocodile tears being shed by some of those who say that they are “shocked” at her assassination.

Police investigations have commenced. Requesting help from foreign experts may ensure that all leads are followed. The investigation was almost torpedoed in its first seconds when Magistrate Consuelo Scerri Herrera failed to realise that this was a definite no-go area for her. That she took hours to realise this, is testimony to the fact that some members of the bench still need to master much more than the law.

The Magistrate’s presence shocked all as soon as she arrived on site at Bidnija. Soon after, that shock was to be compounded by the comments posted on Facebook by a Police Sergeant from the police investigating team on his being overjoyed at the day’s happenings. The fact that he was suspended pending disciplinary action is not sufficient. It still needs to be explained by the Commissioner of Police why some members of the police force have still not realised that they should stay away from the social media as it may seriously jeopardise not only their integrity and impartiality but also that of the whole Police Corps.

Apparently, it was not only the Police Sergeant who was overjoyed on Monday afternoon. What about the few carcades which were organised? Anybody cares to assume responsibility?

The Prime Minister is very anxious to get to the bottom of all this. We all are. The sooner this is done the better. However, when this is done and dusted it would be appropriate to examine the extent to which it was avoidable. As indeed it was.

 

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday – 22 October 2017

Ghost towns in the Maltese Islands

The last Census, carried out in 2011 – with results published in late 2014 – revealed that in the Maltese islands only 68.2 per cent of residential property is regularly occupied. The rest is either vacant (18.4 per cent) or else used seasonally or for some secondary use (13.3 per cent).

If we focus on the regional data, the situation is much clearer. The rate of occupied residential property varies – from 79.5 per cent in the Western Region (between Dingli, Siġġiewi and Balzan) to 46.4 per cent in the Gozo and Comino Region. Table 1 gives the full data. Property that is completely vacant varies from a rate of 16 per cent in the Northern Region (between Naxxar and Mellieħa) to 23.9 per cent in Gozo and Comino as shown it Table 2. Finally, property which is used seasonally or for some secondary use varies from an insignificant three per cent in the Southern Harbour Region (Valletta to Xgħajra, up to Paola and Luqa] to a staggering 29.7 per cent in Gozo, with the Northern Region (between Naxxar and Mellieħa) with a 25.9 per cent rate being a close second as shown in Table 3. This data has been extracted from the 2011 Census Final Report pages 221 and 222.

This amounts to more ten times the size of residential Birkirkara, meaning that the vacant or underutilised properties in Malta and Gozo at this time are equivalent to 10 ghost towns – each of which is equivalent to Birkirkara, the largest locality in the Maltese Islands. This represents a substantial waste of public funds. As a minimum it means that funds spent on the development of the infrastructure (roads, electricity, water, drainage and telecommunications) for these 10 ghost towns went down the drain and could have been mostly avoided.

While all this built-up residential property is vacant or under-utilised, the building industry keeps building more – thereby adding to the glut. They call this progress and a significant contribution to the economy. Alternattiva Demokratika – the Green Party and the environment lobby in Malta has been vociferous about this over-development of the Maltese Islands. This state of affairs has been worsening, with neither the Labour Party nor the Nationalist Party giving a fig about the consequences.

Instead of addressing the issue, the PN government increased the size of the development zone through the addition of the so-called “rationalisation” exercise. On the other hand, the Labour Party has, during the past four years, encouraged more development.

Last March I had the opportunity to represent a number of Mosta residents in opposing the scheming of a large tract of land at Tad-Durumblat, Mosta. This concerned 38,600 square metres of land which formed part of the rationalisation exercise piloted in 2006 by a PN-led government. Mosta has a sizable vacant and under-utilised residential area consisting of 19.4 per cent of the housing stock as in November 2011. The Executive Council of the Planning Authority accepted my arguments and rejected the relative planning control application, thereby saving – at least temporarily – this large tract of land from the greedy forces of development.

Faced with this situation, AD considers that the number of vacant properties in any locality should be an important criterion in determining whether development applications for larger areas are approved or not. This should also apply to the large tracts of land forming part of the rationalisation exercise, in respect of which the determination of the applicable scheme should not be decided if the number of vacant properties is substantial.

It is about time that this situation is addressed and for this purpose, AD’s election manifesto is making this specific proposal: in those localities where the number of vacant properties is substantial, large-scale residential projects will not be permitted.

This would be a good first step in addressing Malta’s ghost towns, ensuring that their enlargement is restrained and thereby applying a significant brake to over-development in the Maltese Islands.

 published in The Malta Independent on Sunday, 14 May 2017

 

Region No. per cent
Southern Harbour 29,107 75.9
Northern Harbour 46,181 72.9
South Eastern 22,279 71.6
Western 19,584 79.5
Northern 23,989 58.1
Gozo and Comino 11,630 46.4

Table 1: Occupied property by Region 

 

Region No. per cent
Southern Harbour 1,113   3
Northern Harbour 6,650 10.5
South Eastern 3,294 10.6
Western 6,33  2.6
Northern 10,692 25.9
Gozo and Comino 7,444 29.7

Table 2: Property used seasonally or for secondary use by Region

 

Region No. per cent
Southern Harbour 8,126 21.2
Northern Harbour 10,556 16.7
South Eastern 5,552 17.8
Western 4,420 17.9
Northern 6,582 16.0
Gozo and Comino 5,996 23.9

 Table 3: Vacant Property by Region

Sens komun: fil-Mosta u f’Marsaxlokk

 

 

Matul dawn l-aħħar ġranet, Alternattiva Demokratika kienet qed tikkampanja kontra żvilupp massiċċ li ġie propost kemm fil-Mosta kif ukoll f’Marsaxlokk.  Din hi kampanja li ilha li bdiet ħdax-il sena, u tibqa’ għaddejja,  kontra t-tkabbir taż-żona żviluppabbli proposta minn George Pullicino, dakinnhar Ministru responsabbli għall-ambjent u l-ippjanar għall-użu tal-art.

Nhar il-Ġimgħa, f’Marsaxlokk, kien ta’ sodisfazzjoni li s-Sindku Horace Gauci, elett f’isem il-Partit Laburista, ingħaqad magħna ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika waqt konferenza stampa b’appoġġ għar-residenti Tal-Marnisi Marsaxlokk.

Hi kampanja biex is-sens komun favur l-ambjent jipprevali fuq id-deċiżjoni li kien ħa l-Parlament fl-2006 meta l-Gvern immexxi mill-PN mexxa ‘l-quddiem proposta biex żewġ miljun metru kwadru ta’ art li kienu barra miż-żona ta’ żvilupp, ma jibqgħux iktar ODZ u minn dakinnhar jibdew jiffurmaw parti miż-żona ta’ żvilupp. Dan sar mingħajr ma ġew eżaminati l-impatti ta’ deċiżjoni bħal din, lejliet li kellha tidħol fis-seħħ id-Direttiva tal-Unjoni Ewropeja dwar il-kejl tal-impatti strateġiċi ambjentali. Li ma sarx dan l-kejl, ifisser li l-impatti kumulattivi tal-iżvilupp li kien qed ikun propost kienu kompletament injorati.

Nhar it-Tnejn 20 ta’ Marzu l-Kumitat Eżekuttiv tal-Awtoritá tal-Ippjanar ħa żewġ deċiżjonijiet kontrastanti dwar żewġ meded kbar ta’ art. Dwar l-ewwel waħda, art agrikola fil-Mosta tal-qies ta’ 38500 metru kwadru l-proposta bi pjan ta’ żvilupp kienet rifjutata filwaqt li dwar it-tieni waħda ukoll primarjament agrikola u b’qies ta’ 17,530 metru kwadru, l-propost pjan ta’ żvilupp kien approvat.

Fiż-żewġ każi ma sar l-ebda eżami tal-impatti soċjali, ekonomiċi u ambjentali u dan billi l-professjonisti tal-ippjanar li taw il-parir lill-Kumitat Eżekuttiv tal-Awtoritá tal-Ippjanar kienu tal-fehma li d-deċiżjoni tal-2006 tal-Parlament kienet kemm ċara kif ukoll finali. Sfortunatament ma dehrilhomx meħtieġ li jeżaminhaw dan minn lenti kritika.

Fl-2006, il-Parlament kien iddeċieda li dawn iż-żewġ miljun metru kwadru ta’ art ma kellhomx iktar ikunu meqjusa bħala barra miż-żona tal-iżvilupp (ODZ). Il-grupp parlamentari tal-PN kien ivvota favur din il-proposta, u dan jispjega l-għaliex dak li taparsi kkonverta favur l-ambjent, Simon Busuttil, għadu ma fetaħx ħalqu dwar dan kollu.  Imma l-Partit Laburista, dakinnhar fl-Opposizzjoni ma kienx qabel u kien ivvota kontra li din l-art tkun tista’ tingħata għall-iżvilupp. Għalhekk Joseph Muscat bħalissa qiegħed f’posizzjoni imbarazzanti.

Il-Partit Laburista għadu tal-istess fehma, jew bidel il-ħsieb? Għax issa waslet is-siegħa tal-prova. X’ser jagħmel? Għax anke jekk ikun meqjus li d-deċiżjoni tal-Parlament tal-2006 titfa’ ċerti obbligi fuq il-Gvern u fuq l-Awtoritá tal-Ippjanar, xorta hu possibli li l-impatt tal-iżvilupp massiv li ġie propost ikun imtaffi.

Id-deċiżjoni tal-20 ta’ Marzu tal-Kumitat Eżekuttiv tal- Awtoritá tal-Ippjanar li biha l-applikazzjoni dwar l-art fil-Mosta kienet rifjutat hu l-mod kif għandhom isiru l-affarijiet. Hi deċiżjoni li s-Segretarju Parlamentari Deborah Schembri għandha żżomm quddiem għajnejha meta l-każ ta’ Marsaxlokk jiġi quddiema biex tikkunsidra jekk tagħtix l-approvazzjoni tagħha. Jiena naħseb li s-Segretarju Parlamentari Schembri għandha tibgħat il-każ ta’ Marsaxlokk lura quddiem l- Awtoritá tal-Ippjanar biex ikun ikkunsidrat mill-ġdid.

Żvilupp massiv ta’ din ix-xorta m’għandux ikun possibli meta hawn tant propjetajiet residenzjali vojta. Anke f’Marsaxlokk stess l-aħħar ċensiment, dak tal-2011, juri li 18.7% tar-residenzi huma battala filwaqt li 5.9% tagħhom jintużaw biss kultant. Nistgħu nibqgħu nibnu bil-goff meta għandna din il-kwantitá ta’ propjetá vojta?

Għandna bżonn ftit sens komun fl-ippjanar ta’ l-użu ta’ l-art. Sens komun li jagħti piz u konsiderazzjoni tal-impatti fuq il-komunitá kollha qabel ma jittieħdu deċiżjoniiet bħal dawn.

Fiż-żewġ każi, l-Mosta u Marsaxlokk, qed nitkellmu dwar raba’ li kienet tinħadem u li issa intelqet minħabba l-pressjoni kkawżata mill-iżvilupp. Dan hu process li jeħtieġ li nwaqqfuh minnufih. Illum qabel għada.

 

ippubblikat f’ Illum –  2 t’April 2017

Green sense is common sense

 

In the last few days Alternattiva Demokratika-the Green Party- has been campaigning against over-development at both Mosta and Marsaxlokk. It is the renewal of an everlasting campaign, started 11 years ago against the increase in the development zone piloted by former Environment and Land Use Planning Minister George Pullicino.

In Marsaxlokk last Friday we were joined by Labour Mayor Horace Gauci who arrived at, and addressed an AD press conference in support of the residents of Il-Marnisi, Marsaxlokk, in view of the impact of the rationalisation exercise in the area.

It is a campaign to see green sense prevail over the rationalisation exercise, as a result of which, in 2006 on the proposal of a PN-led government, Parliament included around two million square metres of land within the development zone overnight. This was done without a strategic environment assessment having been carried out to examine the proposals. It was on the eve of the coming into force of the Strategic Environment Assessment EU Directive which, just days later, would have made such an assessment compulsory. Not carrying out such an assessment signifies that the cumulative impacts of development were ignored by not being factored into the decision-taking process.

On 20 March, the Planning Authority Executive Committee took two contrasting decisions in respect of two large tracts of land. Regarding the first – 38,500 square metres of agricultural land at Mosta –  the scheme for a development proposal was turned down, while in respect of the second – 17,530 square metres of largely agricultural land in Marsaxlokk – the proposal for development was approved.

In neither case was any assessment of the social, economic and environmental impact carried out, as the professional land-use planners advising the Executive Committee of the Planning Authority consider that Parliament’s decision in 2006 was definite and any assessment unnecessary. Unfortunately they did not think it appropriate to examine the matters before them critically.

In 2006, Parliament had decided that this two million square metre area of land, formerly considered as ODZ land, was henceforth to be part of the development zone. The PN Parliamentary group had  voted in favour of this proposal, which is why the pseudo-environmental convert Simon Busuttil is completely silent on the issue. However, the Labour Party Opposition voted against the proposal, thus placing Joseph Muscat in an awkward position today.

Has the Labour Party changed its views? The chickens are now coming home to roost.

When push comes to shove, and notwithstanding the PN mantra that “ODZ is ODZ”, the PN always seeks to consent to ODZ development, as long as such development is given the go-ahead when it is in the driving seat!

But what about the Labour Party today? Even if it factors in the views of those who maintain that the 2006 decision ties its hands, it can certainly take mitigation measures that would substantially reduce the negative impact of the 2006 parliamentary decision which favours such massive over-development.

The decision of the Executive Committee of the Planning Authority on the 20 March to reject the proposal for the development of the tract of land in Mosta is the way forward. It should be taken on board by Parliamentary Secretary for land use planning Deborah Schembri when the Marsaxlokk case is placed on her desk for her consideration. I respectfully ask Ms Schembri to request the Planning Authority to reconsider its decision and hence send it back to the drawing board.

The proposed reconsideration should be undertaken primarily because such massive development is not required: it is not necessary to sacrifice so much agricultural land. (I am informed that on the site there is also a small stretch of garigue with a number of interesting botanical specimens.) The results of the 2011 Census indicated that 18.7 per cent of Marsaxlokk’s housing stock was then vacant and 5.9 per cent of it only in occasional use.  Why should we keep adding to the vacant housing stock through proposals for massive development projects?

We need some green sense in the planning of land-use. We need some common sense in considering the impact on the whole community before far-reaching decisions are taken.  In both cases mentioned above, the land that has been the subject of proposed  development schemes is agricultural land that has fallen into disuse as a result of development pressures. This process should be reversed forthwith, and the sooner the better: it is only common sense.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday – 2 April 2017

Il-ħut fil-baħar ta’ Sandro Chetcuti

Fi stqarrija li ħarġet l-Assoċjazzjoni tal-Iżviluppaturi, bi tweġiba ovvja għall-konferenza stampa li jiena indirizzajt il-bieraħ fMarsaxlokk, Sandro Chetcuti qed jiddefendi lil min xtara l-ħut fil-baħar.

Għax hekk ġralu min xtara art li l-Parlament fl-2006 approva biex tkun tajba għall-bini, bħalma għamlu dawk li xtraw l-art fil-Mosta (Torri Cumbo) u Marsaxlokk (Marnisi), fl-aħbarijiet fdawn il-ġranet.

Meta fl-2006 il-Parlament bil-voti favur tal-Membri Parlamentari Nazzjonalisti u bil-voti kontra tal-Membri Parlamentari Laburisti approva li żewġ miljun metru kwadru ta art minn ODZ saru parti miżżona ta żvilupp ma iddeċiediex xseta jinbena fuqhom. L-anqas ma iddeċieda l-għoli li seta jinbena.

Imma min kellu l-art f’ħafna każi fassal it-toroq u beda jbiegħ il-plots. U għamel kemxa ġmielha!

Min approva fejn ser jgħaddu t-toroq?

Ħadd. Tant li meta per eżempju nhar l-20 ta Marzu l-Kumitat Eżekuttiv tal-Awtoritá tal-Ippjanar kien qed jiddiskuti l-applikazzjoni tal-Mosta (dawk it-38,500 metru kwadru ħdejn it-Torri Cumbo) wieħed mill-membri tal-kumitat qal li l-applikanti ippruvaw jorbtu idejn l-Awtoritá billi fasslu t-toroq u qasmu l-plots bdawn it-toroq qabel ma ittieħdet id-deċiżjoni.

Issa xjiġri jekk l-Awtorita tal-Ippjanar tiddeċiedi (kif għandha kull dritt li tagħmel) li tfassal it-toroq bmod differenti? Jew inkella jekk tiddeċiedi li l-art għandha tinbena bdensitá baxxa, bsular wieħed biss?

Dan kollu Sandro ma jgħidux. Għax min fittex li jbiegħ l-art daħaq bin-nies meta qassamhom fi plots kif ried hu u mingħajr ma kellu f’idejh il-permessi tal-ippjanar biex ikun jista jagħmel dan.

Xtraw il-plots meta ma kellhom l-ebda konferma dwar xjista jinbena fuqhom. L-anqas biss ma kellhom konferma li l-plot li xtraw kellha faċċata mat-triq.

Għalhekk xtraw il-ħut fil-baħar.

 

Triq Durumblat : ħdejn it-Torri Cumbo Mosta

 

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Durumblat hu (jew kien) isem ta qasam art bejn il-Mosta u Ta Vnezja li jibqa tiegħla lejn l-Imdina. Il-kelma Durumblat, jgħidilna Erin Serracino-Inglott fil-kapulavur tiegħu Il-Miklem Malti  trid tfisser ħotba fil-blat.

Imma din il-ħotba fil-blat ftit għadha tidher bil-bini sfrenat li tela tul is-snin.

Issa fl-aħħar forsi ser nieqfu biex naħsbu ftit dwar xinhu jiġri. Id-deċiżjoni tal-bieraħ tal-Awtorità tal-Ippjanar li tirrifjuta l-applikazzjoni biex art fil-periferija tal-Mosta tkun żviluppata bmod intensiv toffri tama li s-sens komun fl-ippjanar għall-użu tal-art fpajjiżna għadu ma intilifx għal kollox. L-applikazzjoni PC 039/09 kienet biex ikun determinat xtip ta żvilupp hu permissibbli fuq art tal-qies ta 38,600 metru kwadru ħdejn it-Torri Cumbo l-Mosta.

Il-bierah jiena kont preżenti għas-seduta tal- Awtoritá u fisem residenti fl-inħawi tkellimt kontra din l-applikazzjoni.  Fissirt kif l-iżvilupp propost hu wieħed massiv u li kien neċessarju li jkun magħruf, permezz ta studji apposta, xinhu l-impatt, mhux biss ta dan l-iżvilupp iżda ukoll fuq l-impatt kumulattiv. Jiġifieri meta tqis kemm l-impatt tal-bini eżistenti u żżid miegħu l-impatt tal-bini ġdid propost.

Jiena konxju li l-istorja mhux ser tieqaf hawn. Id-deċiżjoni żbaljata favur l-iżvilupp ilha li ttieħdet sa mill-2006 meta l-Parlament iddeċieda li madwar żewġ miljun metru kwadru ta art fil-periferija tal-ibliet u l-irħula tagħna jingħataw għall-iżvilupp. Dakinnhar kienu qalu li dan kien eżerċizzju ta razzjonalizzazzjoni. Imma jiddispjaċini ngħid li hu kollox barra razzjonali!

Huwa neċessarju li qabel ma din l-applikazzjoni tkun ikkunsidrata mill-ġdid, kif inevitabilment ser jiġri, ikun ikkunsidrat bir-reqqa l-impatt soċjali, ekonomiku u ambjentali ta dan l-iżvilupp massiċċ. Hemm ħtieġa li jsiru l-istudji neċessarji li jikkwantifikaw dan l-impatt kif ukoll li jkunu identifikati miżuri ta mitigazzjoni. 

Fost oħrajn għandna niftakru li l-aħħar ċensiment li sar fl-2011 kien żvela li minn 8359 residenza fil-Mosta, 16.2% kienu vakanti u 3.2% oħra kienu użati okkazjonalment. Dan waħdu diġa huwa raġuni valida biżżejjed li minħabba fiha dan it-tip ta żvilupp għandu jkun skoraġġit.

Għandu jkun ikkunsidrat ukoll li għall-futur, il-kunsiderazzjoni ta applikazzjonijiet ta din ix-xorta għandhom ikunu akkumpanjati minn miżuri innovattivi ta ħarsien ambjentali fosthom l-obbligu tal-ġenerazzjoni ta elettriku mix-xemx btali mod li kull waħda mill-units reżidenzjali permessi tkun carbon neutral.

Din id-deċiżjoni tal-Awtorità tal-Ippjanar, hi lezzjoni għall-Gvern u l-Oppożizzjoni: wasal iżżmien li d-deċiżjoni stupida li kien ħa l-Parlament fl-2006 tkun reveduta. Mhux biss dwar l-art fil-Mosta iżda dwar kull wieħed miżżewġ miljuni metru kwadru li dakinnhar ingħataw għall-iżvilupp.

Alternattiva Demokratika hi kburija li tul dawn l-aħħar ħdax-il sena ma waqfitx titkellem fuq din il-materja u tistieden lill-Gvern u l-Oppożizzjoni biex jiftħu għajnejhom u jingħaqdu magħha biex din id-deċiżjoni ħażina tal-Parliament fl-2006 tkun indirizzata.

Mosta : 38,600 metri kwadri oħra għall-bini

 

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Iktar kmieni dal-għodu fkonferenza stampa fil-periferija tal-Mosta, ħdejn it-Torri Cumbo, Alternattiva Demokratika reġgħet semmgħet leħinnha dwar żvilupp żejjed u l-qerda tar-raba.

L-art li se tintmiss din id-darba fiha qies ta madwar 38,600 metru kwadru. Dwarha l-Awtorità tal-Ippjanar nhar it-Tnejn li ġej se tiddeċiedi dwar xtip ta żvilupp se jkun possibli fuqha.

L-aħħar ċensiment li sar fl-2011 kien żvela li minn 8359 residenza fil-Mosta, 16.2% kienu vakanti u 3.2% oħra kienu użati okkazjonalment. Allura għalfejn l-awtoritiajiet kontinwament jinkoraġġixxu żvilupp massiċċ?

Din hi medda oħra ta art li fl-2006 l-Gvern ta dakinhar kien iddeċieda li tista tinbena. Dakinhar il-Partit Laburista fil-Parlament kien ivvota kontra u l-Partit Nazzjonalista kien ivvota favur din il-qerda.

L-Awtorità tal-Ippjanar se tikkonsidra l-applikazzjoni PC 039/09 li biha fdin iżżona se jkun permess żvilupp ta tliet sulari u semi-basement bbini ta għoli ta 17.50 metru minn wiċċ it-triq. L-art hi mqassma fi 93 plot individwali u 8 biċċiet oħra ta art li sissa ma ġewx imqassma fi plots. Din l-art, meta tinbena tista iżżid numru konsiderevoli ta propjetajiet vojta ma dawk li diġa hemm.

Bħal din l-art hemm medded oħra ta art li kemm-il darba tkellimna fuqhom, inkluż fi Triq Dun Mikiel Xerri, fit-tarf ta Ħ’Attard.

Alternattiva Demokratika tistieden lill-Partit Laburista li fl-2006 ivvota kontra l-iżvilupp ta din l-art u oħrajn bħalha, biex ikun konsistenti u jieħu l-passi neċessarji, dejjem sakemm ma reġax bdielu, issa li qiegħed fil-Gvern.

Iċ-ċavetta li tista’ tiftaħ il-bibien magħluqa ………………

Opening door with key

 

Mhux l-ewwel wieħed li ser nikkummenta li bir-riżultati elettorali ta’ tmiem il-ġimgħa kulħadd hu kuntent. Ovvjament din hi reazzjoni artifiċjali ħafna u għandha titqies biss bħala l-ewwel reazzjoni sakemm kulħadd ikollu ċ-ċans li jifli ftit ir-riżultati daqsxejn iktar fil-fond.

Iċ-ċifri uffiċjali, per eżempju jgħidu li Alternattiva Demokratika kisbet 1.10% tal-voti mitfugħa f’dan ir-rawnd ta’ elezzjonijiet lokali. Dawn iċ-ċifri huma korretti imma ma jagħtux l-istampa rejali. Dan minħabba li AD ikkontestat biss f’7 lokalitajiet minn 34. Il-lokalitajiet li fihom AD ikkontestat l-elezzjonijiet nhar il-11 t’April l-anqas ma huma għal kollox l-istess lokalitajiet li fihom AD ikkontestat fl-2012 u allura ftit li xejn tista’ tagħmel paraguni.

Fil-Qala, fin-Nadur u f’Ħal-Qormi AD kisbet numru żgħir ta’ voti li huma kumparabbli kemm ma dawk miksuba fl-elezzjoni ġenerali kif ukoll, fejn applikabbli, ma’ parteċipazzjoni f’elezzjonijiet oħra tal-Kunsilli Lokali fl-istess lokalitajiet. F’dawn il-lokalitajiet mela jkun ġust li wieħed jikkonkludi li AD baqgħet fl-istess ilma.

Imma mhux l-istess jista’ jingħad fil-lokalitajiet l-oħra. F’Ħ’Attard reġa’ ġie elett għal darba oħra s-Segretarju Ġenerali ta’ AD Ralph Cassar li fl-ewwel għadd kiseb 7.3% tal-voti mitfugħa.  Mhux biss reġa’ ġie elett imma kiseb ammont ta’ voti iktar mis-soltu, u, iktar importanti minn hekk, wiret biżżejjed voti mingħand kandidati oħra (PN, PL u Indipendenti) biex ġie elett f’lokalita fejn il-Partit Laburista naqqas il-presenza tiegħu billi tilef kunsillier. Issa dan il-fatt għandu l-importanza tiegħu prinċipalment għax ifisser li Alternattiva Demokratika qed tikkonsolida l-egħruq tagħha f’dik iż-żona ta’ Malta li hi iktar sensittiva minn żoni oħra għal materji ambjentali.

Argumenti simili jistgħu jingħadu għal-lokalita’ ta’ San Ġiljan fejn il-kandidat ġdid u żgħażugħ Gulio Caruana irdoppja l-voti (ġieb 5.4%) li kisbet il-kandidat ta’ AD fl-istess lokalita fl-2012. Żieda simili kellu Simon Galea fuq San Pawl il-Baħar fejn irid jingħad li kienu bil-voti tiegħu, meta ġie eliminat, li l-PN seta jirbaħ il-lokalità ta’ San Pawl il-Baħar. L-istess kif kien ġara fil-Mosta fl-2012 bil-voti li dakinnhar kienu inkisbu minngħand Robert Callus.

Min-naħa l-oħra kienet esperjenza ġdida l-kandidatura taż-żgħazugħa Monique Agius fuq Ħaż-Żebbuġ li kisbet 3.1% tal-voti l-ewwel darba li kkontestat.

Dan kollu jrid ukoll ikun ikkunsidrat fl-isfond tad-49.6% miksuba mill-LE fir-referendum kontra l-kaċċa fir-rebbiegħa. Dan ir-referendum kien riżultat ta’ petizzjoni li bdiet Alternattiva Demokratika flimkien ma’ 13-il għaqda ambjentali fil-pajjiż. Fil-parti l-kbira tagħhom dawk li ivvutaw LE m’humiex votanti li soltu jivvutaw Alternattva Demokratika. Huwa ovvju li fil-parti l-kbira tagħhom is-soltu jivvutaw lill-partiti oħra. Ta’ l-inqas fil-konfront ta’ uħud, dan mhux bil-fors jibqa’ l-każ u dan in vista tal-kummenti diversi minn dawk li ma qablux mal-posizzjoni li ħadu l-partiti l-kbar.

Din hi storja li għad trid tiżviluppa matul it-tlett snin li ġejjin. Jekk tiżviluppax jew le f’ċaqlieq ta’ votanti min-naħa għall-oħra tal-ispettru politiku huwa kmieni biex jingħad imma l-ingredjenti biex dan iseħħ qegħdin hemm. Għandek persentaġġ għoli ta’ votanti li ma mxewx mad-direzzjoni indikata mill-mexxejja tal-partiti l-kbar. Għal uħud mhux importanti li kellhom opinjoni differenti mill-mexxejja. Imma għal oħrajn li ivvutaw LE fuq prinċipju tal-ħarsien tal-bijodiversita fir-rebbiegħa il-mistoqsijiet mhux imwieġba huma interminabbli. Huwa l-ewwel darba li l-partiti l-kbar kellhom l-opportunità li jagħmlu għażla ċara. Għamluha u issa ħadd ma għandu l-iskuża li ma jafx fejn hu.

Għax bla ma trid bil-fors tirrifletti u tistaqsi lilek innifsek : kif tista’ tieħu posizzjoni favur l-ambjent fir-referendum u mbagħad ma tagħtix l-istess piz lill-ambjent f’elezzjonijiet oħra?  Għal uħud mill-votanti ma hemm xejn ħażin li l-ambjent jingħata prijorita sekondarja, imma għal numru dejjem ikbar jidher li dan mhux il-każ.

Kemm hu kbir dan in-numru għad irridu naraw. Kliem l-ambjentalista Alan Deidun fis-Sunday Times ta’ nhar il-Ħadd li għadda huwa ċar:

“Effectively, the spineless stance taken by both PL and PN MP’s effectively meant that over 124,000 Maltese citizens were not represented by their elected parliamentarians, bar one. This is the boldest of statements about our political class…..the aspirations of such a large minority have only been voiced by a party – AD – which is not even represented in Parliament…..yet another quirk of democracy.”

Din hi l-isfida li Alternattiva Demokratika għandha quddiema bħala riżultat tal-votazzjoni tal-11 t’April. Hi opportunità unika li mhux ser tirrepeti ruħha fil-futur qarib. Il-futur ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika jiddependi fuq kemm ser tkun kapaċi matul ix-xhur li ġejjin taddatta ruħha biex issarraf din l-opportunità.

Bħala konsegwenza tar-riżultat tal-11 t’April diversi qed jinteressaw ruħhom iktar fil-ħidma ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika. Dan jawgura tajjeb għall-futur għax jagħti l-possibilità lill-Alternattiva Demokratika li torganizza ruħha aħjar, biex twassal b’mod iktar effettiv il-messaġġ tagħha li l-ħarsien tal-ambjent jiddetermina l-kwalità tal-ħajja ta’ kull wieħed u waħda minna peró l-iktar ta’ dawk fil-periferija tas-soċjetà.

Ir-riżultat tal-votazzjonijiet tal-11 t’April fih iċ-ċavetta li biha jistgħu jinfetħu ħafna bibien li illum huma magħluqa.

Dejjem sakemm ma tilħaqx tinbidel is-serratura.