“Tradituri” f’nofshom

Waqt li n-Nazzjonalisti huma ppreokkupati bit-“tradituri” f’nofshom, it-tmexxija tal-partit tidher li hi inkwetata li l-partit hu maqtugħ mir-realtá, kif fil-fatt hu!

Il-Partit Nazzjonalista mhux ser ikun iktar partit ta’ elitisti – dawk b’imneħirhom imxammar – iddikjara Dottor Adrian Delia. Wieħed dejjem jista’ jipprova jagħmel dan: ir-riżultati jkun jista’ jarahom kulħadd.

Il-Partit Nazzjonalista, qal Dottor Adrian Delia, għandu joffri leħen għan-nies f’kull qasam tal-ħajja. Inkluż forsi, vuċi għat-“tradituri” ukoll!

It-taqlib li għaddej minnu l-PN hu kbir. Qed ngħid taqlib, mhux tibdil. Prinċipalment passi lura. Huwa ċar li l-ftit passi żgħar ‘il-quddiem li saru taħt it-tmexxija ta’ Simon Busuttil ftit li xejn kellhom aċċettazzjoni mill-membri tal-PN fil-livelli kollha. Bosta jidher li qisuhom bħala imposizzjoni: il-politika tal-inklussivitá għadha mhix parti mil-lingwaġġ aċċettat mill-PN u wisq inqas mill-politika mħaddna. Diversi fil-PN, sfortunatament, għadhom imxennqin għall-għeruq fundamentalisti.

Kultant nisimgħu xi leħen maħnuq ifakkarna fl-għajta tal-bieraħ “religio et patria”. Għajta li tistona f’kuntrast mal-pluraliżmu etiku u l-identitá Ewropea mħaddna minn sezzjonijiet dejjem jikbru tas-soċjetá Maltija illum. Jidher li l-PN ma tgħallem xejn mill-esperjenzi riċenti tiegħu b’mod partikolari mid-diskors u l-atteġġjamenti fundamentalisti tat-tmexxija ta’ Lawrence Gonzi.

L-ebda partit politku ma jista’ jingħalaq fih innifsu u ma jagħtix kaz ta’ dak li qed jiġri madwaru. Il-valuri tas-soċjetá li qed naħdmu fiha qegħdin fi stat ta’ trasformazzjoni kontinwa, kultant mgħaġġla ħafna, u dan għandu jkun rifless ukoll fil-mod li bih nagħmlu l-poltika. Il-PN illum qed iħallas il-prezz politiku għax fil-passat riċenti dan ma għarfux. Jidher li anke fil-preżent hu deċiż li jibqa’ għaddej fl-istess triq żbaljata.

Instigat minn persuni bħal Edwin Vassallo, il-Membru Parlamentari mill-Mosta li bħal Don Quixote kontinwament ikollu viżjonijiet ta’ mtieħen ineżistenti, il-PN tilef opportunitá oħra meta l-Parlament kellu quddiemu l-abbozz ta’ liġi dwar il-vjolenza domestika. Kif spjegali wieħed mill-Membri Parlamentari tal-PN, il-grupp parlamentari tal-PN kien diġa ivvota favur l-abbozz ta’ liġi dwar id-Vjolenza Domestika kemm fl-istadju ta’ l-ewwel qari kif ukoll fl-istadju tat-tieni qari. Kien biss meta Edwin Vassallo tfixkel minħabba l-viżjoni tal-imtieħen tiegħu li nbidel il-ħsieb u kulħadd fil-grupp parlamentari telaq għal rieħu.

Issa l-PN għamel pass ieħor. Ittimbra “tradituri” lil dawk li kellhom il-kuraġġ li jsemmgħu leħinhom u li ma jibqgħux imxekkla mill-irbit tal-fundamentaliżmu.

L-attitudnijiet tal-lum imorru lura għall-posizzjoni ta’ prinċipju li ħadet Therese Commodini Cachia li irrifjutat li ssegwi l-posizzjoni tal-Opposizzjoni kontra l-Ordni għal Standard Nazzjonali dwar il-leave għall-prokreazzjoni medika assistita f’Ottubru 2017.

Tmien membri parlamentari tal-PN u ċioe Claudette Buttigieg, Chris Said, Simon Busuttil, Karol Aquilina, Mario De Marco, Karl Gouder, Jason Azzopardi u Therese Commodini Cachia bħala riżultat tal-vot ħieles tal-Opposizzjoni appoġġaw l-abbozz ta’ liġi dwar il-Vjolenza Domestika bil-bqija tal-grupp parlamentari jivvota kontra.

Biex ikompli jgħaxxaqqa, il-Kap tal-Opposizzjoni, wara li spiċċat din il-kummiedja ddikjara li l-abbozz ta’ liġi approvat, li jimplimenta l-Konvenzjoni ta’ Istanbul, ikun wieħed minn ta’ l-ewwel li meta l-PN ikun fil-Gvern jitħassar. Mid-dehra Dottor Delia mhux jirrealizza li bi kliemu qiegħed jimbotta dak il-jum (li l-PN ikun fil-Gvern) ħafna iktar il-bogħod. Possibilment li l-Kabinett Nazzjonalista li jmiss għadu l-anqas biss twieled!

Ippubblikat fuq Illum : il-Ħadd 13 ta’ Mejju 2018

Advertisements

“Traitors” in their midst

While the PN rank and file are preoccupied with the “traitors” in their midst, the PN leadership is apparently worried that the party is out of touch with reality, as indeed it is.

The PN will no longer be a party of the elite, declared Dr Adrian Delia. Well, one can always try to achieve that: the results so far are there for all to see.

The party, said Dr Delia, would offer a voice to people at all levels of society –  presumably a voice for “traitors” too!

To say that the Nationalist Party is in a state of turmoil would be a gross understatement. It is now clear to everyone that the very few steps forward made by the PN under Simon Busuttil’s leadership were never accepted by either the PN MPs or by its rank and file. Most considered them an imposition: the politics of inclusivity has not yet made it to the PN political lexicon. Most of the PN, unfortunately, still yearns for its anachronistic fundamentalist roots.

The PN’s perennial motto religio et patria is in stark contrast to the ethical pluralism and Europeanisation embraced by ever-increasing sections of Maltese society. The PN has apparently learned nothing from its recent experiences, most notably when Lawrence Gonzi’s fundamentalist discourse ruled the day. No political party can ignore the rapid changes in our society. The values of our society are in a state of constant transformation, at times at a very fast pace, and this should be reflected in the way in which we do politics. The PN today is paying the political price for failing to recognise this fact and acting accordingly.

Prodded by the likes of Edwin Vassallo, the Mosta MP who constantly has Don Quixotic visions of non-existent windmills, the PN missed another opportunity when the Domestic Violence Bill came up before Parliament. As one PN MP explained to me, the PN Parliamentary Group voted in favour of the Domestic Violence Bill at both first and second reading stage, until Edwin Vassallo panicked due to his vision of windmills, as a result torpedoing his own parliamentary group.

The PN has now gone one step further. They are labelling as “traitors” those who have the courage to stand up and be counted, free from the shackles of fundamentalism.

The current attitudes can be traced to the uncompromising stance taken by Therese Commodini Cachia, who did not support the Opposition’s stand against the National Standard Order in relation to Leave for Medically Assisted Procreation way back in October 2017.

As a result of the Opposition free vote, eight PN MPs – namely Claudette Buttigieg, Chris Said, Simon Busuttil, Karol Aquilina, Mario De Marco, Karl Gouder, Jason Azzopardi and Therese Commodini Cachia – supported the Domestic Violence Bill with the remaining members of the PN Parliamentary Group voting against.

To crown this comedy of errors, the Leader of the Opposition further declared that the approved Domestic Violence Bill implementing the Istanbul Convention, would be one of the first that he would repeal on taking office. Apparently Dr Delia is not aware that his utterances have pushed that day (when he assumes office) further into the future.  It is possible that the members of the next PN-led cabinet have not even been born yet!

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday : 13 May 2018

Bomba tal-ħin jisimha Pilatus

Il-kwistjoni tal-bank Pilatus Bank għandha l-potenzjal li tkun il-kawża ta’ ħsara li tmur lil hinn minn dik lir-reputazzjoni tal-pajjiż.

Iktar kmieni din il-ġimgħa kien żvelat li ċ-Chairman tal-Bank Pilatus Ali Sadr Hasheminejad bħala riżultat ta’ investigazzjonijiet li kienu ilhom għaddejjin madwar sitt snin kien arrestat fl-Istati Uniti tal-Amerika u akkużat li pprova jdur mas-sanzjonijiet Amerikani kontra l-Iran billi uża banek Amerikani ħalli jittrasferixxi miljuni ta’ dollari mill-Venezwela b’mod li ħeba l-konnessjoni Iranjana.

Ġejna infurmati li dawn l-akkużi, jekk ippruvati, jistgħu jwasslu sa massimu ta’ 125 sena l-ħabs.

F’temp ta’ ftit siegħat, nhar il-Ħamis, hekk kif ħarġet l-aħbar, l-Awtoritá Maltija tas-Servizzi Finanzjarji (MFSA) neħħiet lil Ali Sadr Hasheminejad mit-tmexxija tal-bank Pilatus, inkluż li ssospendiet d-drittijiet kollha tiegħu fuq il-bank u mbagħad ipproċediet biex ħatret amministratur bl-inkarigu li jmexxi l-bank u jieħu ħsieb l-assi kollha tiegħu. Dan sar wara li MFSA tat direzzjoni li l-bank ma kellux jiddisponi minn, jillikwida, jittrasferixxi jew b’xi mod imiss l-assi u l-flus tal-klijenti tal-bank.

Issa sirna nafu ukoll li x-xahar li għadda l-Awtoritá Ewropeja dwar il-Banek (European Banking Authority) kienet ordnat li tinbeda investigazzjoni preliminari dwar is-supervizjoni tal-bank Pilatus mill-Awtoritá Maltija tas-Servizzi Finanzjarja u b’mod partikolari dwar il-verifiki li kellhom isiru in konnessjoni mal-kapital inizzjali ta’ €8 miljuni li Ali Sadr Hasheminejad uża biex waqqaf il-bank.

Damu ftit jaħsbuha!

Bosta minna jiftakru lil Ali Sadr Hasheminejad ħiereġ mill-uffiċini ta’ Pilatus f’Ta’ Xbiex tard fil-għaxija, jum fost l-oħrajn, bil-kameras tat-TV jiġru warajh u bil-gurnalisti jfajjru l-mistoqsijiet. Kienu qed jistaqsu jekk fil-bagalji li kellu kienx hemm xi dokumenti tal-bank konnessi mal-kontroversja dwar min kienu is-sidien ta’ Egrant inkella dwar it-trasferimenti ta’ flejjes minn uħud mill-kontijiet tal-bank.

Ir-Repubblika tal-Azerbajġan ilha ftit turi interss f’kooperazzjoni ma’ Malta. Ta’ interess f’dan is-sens kienet stqarrija ta’ 127 kelma li ħarġet lejn tmiem Diċembru tal-2014 li ħabbret li kien ġie iffirmat ftehim bejn Konrad Mizzi, dakinnhar Ministru tal-Enerġija ta’ Malta u l-kontro-parti tiegħu Natiq Aliyev kif ukoll ftehim ieħor mal-kumpanija statali taż-żejt tar-Repubblika tal-Azerbajġan (SOCAR). La l-istampa Maltja ma kienet hemm u l-anqas ma kien hemm uffiċjali pubbliċi jassistu lid-delegazzjoni Maltija mmexxija mill-Prim Ministru Joseph Muscat. Dakinhar kulħadd kien staqsa “għaliex ?”

F’dan l-isfond ma nafx liema hu dak il-pajjiż li jista’ jżomm ir-reputazzjoni tiegħu intatta!
Bħalissa għaddejjin diversi investigazzjonijiet, lkoll bil-pass ta’ nemla. F’xi ħin, nittama li mhux il-bogħod, kapaċi naraw il-biċċiet jingħaqdu fi stampa waħda li tkun ċara u li tinftiehem minn kulħadd.

Kull investgazzjoni mitmuma, kull rapport konkluż, tnaqqas it-tul tal-miċċa ta’ din il-bomba tal-ħin. Nittama biss li meta din il-bomba tal-ħin tieħu teqred biss lil dawk li ħolquha jew lil dawk li qagħdu jitbissmu lil dawk li ħolquha. Sfortunatament il-ħsara tinfirex.

Ippubblikat fuq Illum : Il-Ħadd 25 ta’ Marzu 2018

 

Ir-rigali tat-tieġ ta’ Venezja

Il-kurżitá ta’ Simon Busuttil m’għandhiex limitu.

Issa jrid ikun jaf ukoll dwar ir-rigali tat-tieġ li Joseph Muscat u Keith Schembri taw lil Ali Sadr Hashiminejad, sid il-bank Pilatus. Mhux biss, irid ikun jaf ukoll min ħallas għalihom!

Mid-dehra din ser tkun xi mistoqsija parlamentari għal wara l-vaganzi tal-Għid. Probabbilment li jidħol fin-nofs Anġlu Farrugia l-Ispeaker u jerġa’ jżomm id-domanda milli ssir, bħalma ġara ftit ilu meta Simon Busuttil ried ikun jaf dwar il-kontijiet tal-bank tal-Kasco!

Simon Busuttil qed jgħid li biex Hashiminejad stieden lil Joseph Muscat u lil Keith Schembri għat-tieġ dawn bil-fors kienu ħbieb sew, ħbieb tal-qalba. Simon Busuttil qiesu qed jibdel id-diska issa. M’għadux jgħid li dawn kienu klijenti tal-bank u li kien jiftħilhom il-kontijiet l-hawn u l-hemm bil-miljuni jtiru min-naħa għall-oħra tad-dinja qieshom żerriegħa tal-ħarrub.

Issa jekk Simon Busuttil għandu kurżitá biex ikun jaf x’rigali rċieva Hashiminejad mingħand Joseph u Keith, il-kurżita tagħna hi waħda differenti: mhux aħjar inkunu nafu min kienu l-mistednin l-oħra għat-tieġ ta’ Venezja? S’issa nafu bil-koppja Bencini, imma kien hemm ukoll bosta oħrajn. Min kienu: ħbieb, klijenti jew pedini importanti li jaħdmu mar-regolaturi differenti f’Malta?

Għax jista’ jkun li dawn il-mistednin (li s’issa isimhom mhux magħruf) tawħ ħafna iktar minn rigal tat-tieġ lil Hashiminejad. U xejn ma niskanta jekk għal dan diġa ħallasna aħna lkoll.

It-tieġ f’Venezja: kien hemm regolaturi preżenti?

Wara li dak kollu li ġara mill-bank Pilatus u dawk kollha li missew miegħu, kemm dak magħruf kif ukoll dak li s’issa għadu mhux magħruf, bla dubju hemm tħassib serju dwar il-familjarita żejda ta’ Ali Sadr Hasheminejad ma dawk fil-poter kif ukoll ma dawk fid-dellijiet tal-poter f’Malta.

Huwa ġust li intwera tħassib kbir għal din il-familjarita, bla dubju żejda u ta’ ħsara.

Issa bdew ħierġin ukoll ismijiet ġodda, dawk attivi fis-settur finanzjarju li ukoll kellhom din il-familjarita mas-sid tal-bank Pilatus. Anke hawn hemm lok għal thassib u jkun interessanti ħafna kieku kellna nkunu nafu l-istampa kollha biex nifhmu iktar dak li fil-fatt ġara u li fil-parti l-kbira tiegħu għadu mhux magħruf. Hemm min bla dubju jixtieq li dan kollu jibqa’ mhux magħruf.

Min kixef biċċa, u min kixef biċċa oħra. Min kixef, kixef dak li qabillu. Tat-Times qalulna dwar il-presenza ta’ Joseph Muscat u Keith Schembri u ħbewlna ismijiet oħrajn li kienu preżenti għat-tieġ f’Venezja ta’ Ali Sadr Hasheminejad. Il-Malta Today ippubblikat tweġiba ta’ Joseph u kixfet il-presenza tal-Avukat Austin Bencini u martu Juanita Bencini l-konsulent tal-KPMG, l-awdituri ta’ Pilatus.

Min jaħseb li huma l-ismijiet tal-politiċi biss li jista’ jkollhom relevanza għall-istorja li qed tiżviluppa m’għandux idea tal-gravitá u l-implikazzjonijiet serji ta’ dak li ġara. Biex l-istampa tkun ċara hemm bżonn li toħroġ l-informazzjoni dwar jekk kienx hemm persuni mill-istituzzjonijiet regolatorji li kienu preżenti għal dan it-tieġ.

Dan ikun daqsxejn ġurnaliżmu investgattiv kif imiss, kieku jkun hemm min għandu l-kuraġġ li jagħmlu.

S’issa kellna battibekki politiċi, dwar min jirnexxilu joskura l-iktar lin-naħa l-oħra. Imma hemm bżonn li tkun magħrufa l-istampa kollha. L-informazzjoni li s’issa għadha nieqsa hi l-iktar informazzjoni inkwetanti: kien hemm persuni konnessi mal-awtoritajiet regolatorji Maltin li kienu preżenti għat-tieġ f’Venezja? Min kienu?

Meta inkunu nafu dawn l-ismijiet jibda jkollna idea ta’ uħud minn dawk li ma jidhrux u huma l-ikbar theddida għal dan il-pajjiż.

A time-bomb called Pilatus

The Pilatus Bank saga has the potential to develop into much more than damage to the country’s reputation. 

Earlier this week it was revealed that Pilatus Chairman Ali Sadr Hasheminejad was, as a result of investigations spanning the past six years, arrested in the United States on charges that he evaded US-Iran sanctions by moving millions of dollars from Venezuela through US banks using a network of banks in order to conceal the Iranian connection.

We were informed that if the charges are proven a maximum sentence of 125 years behind bars is at stake.

Over a number of hours  on Thursday, the MFSA removed Ali Sadr Hasheminejad from the Pilatus Chairmanship, stripped him of all authority over the bank – including the suspension of his voting rights – and then proceeded to appoint an administrator to take charge of the bank and its assets. It further directed the bank “not to dispose, liquidate, transfer or otherwise deal with clients’ assets and monies”.

At the same time, the media informed us that last month the European Banking Authority ordered a preliminary inquiry into the Malta Financial Services Authority’s supervision of Pilatus Bank. In particular, this should be dealing with the due diligence checks of the €8 million initial capital which Ali Sadr Hasheminejad used to set up the bank. Is it not about time that such an inquiry is held?

Most of us do remember Ali Sadr Hasheminejad leaving Pilatus offices in Ta’ Xbiex late one evening last year, moving heavy luggage towards his parked car. He was being filmed by a television crew and questioned as to whether he was removing any bank documents from the bank’s vaults in the wake of the Egrant ownership allegations as well as in view of leaked information as to the ownership of a number of accounts held at Pilatus Bank and the transfers carried out to and from such accounts.

The involvement of the Azerbaijani dynasty in a number of matters adds further spice to the developing stories.

Coincidentally, the Azerbaijani Republic is interested in cooperation with tiny Malta. Of interest in this respect is a 127-word statement issued late in December 2014 announcing the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Dr Konrad Mizzi, at the time Malta’s Energy Minister, and his counterpart Natiq Aliyev, as well as a further Memorandum with the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR). The Maltese press did not cover the event and,  moreover, no Maltese civil servants were present to assist the Maltese delegation led by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat. Everyone had queried this at the time.

This is part of the background which, even if its individual bits were unrelated, is sufficient to blow to smithereens any country’s reputation.

Various investigations are currently in the pipeline, albeit moving at a snail’s pace. At some point in time, hopefully not too distant, we may be able to see which parts of the jigsaw puzzle fit together.

Each investigation concluded, and each report published, shortens the fuse of this time-bomb. It can only be hoped that when this time-bomb goes off it will only destroy those who created it – or who watched its development in awe. Unfortunately, the collateral damage will, inevitably, be substantial.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday – 25th March 2018

Making hay …….. in St George’s Bay

The 23-storey Pender Gardens high-rise is nearly completed, after nearly 10 years of continuous construction activity. The application for the 31-storey Mercury House was approved last month and next Thursday, the Planning Authority Board will consider planning application PA2478/16 submitted by Garnet Investments Limited in respect of a substantial stretch of land along St George’s Bay on the outskirts of Paceville St Julian’s.

The applicant has requested the following: “Demolition of all existing buildings forming part of St. George’s Bay Hotel and ancillary facilities, Dolphin House, Moynihan House and Cresta Quay. Construction of Parking facilities, Hotels and ancillary facilities, Commercial Area, Multi Ownership holiday accommodation, Bungalows, Language school with accommodation. Restoration of the Villa Rosa and upgrading of the facilities including parking facility, kitchen and toilets all below existing site levels within the Villa Rosa Area to address catering facilities/wedding hall.”

The project includes mixed-uses covering a total site area of 48,723 square metres, a building footprint of 18,345 square metres and a total gross floor area of 82,917 square meters.

It is a small part of the area that was tentatively tackled by a draft Masterplan for Paceville which, after being rejected by public opinion was sent back to the drawing board. I consider it highly unethical for the Planning Authority to proceed with considering this application after the clear and resounding verdict of public opinion. As a minimum, the consideration of this application should have been postponed until a new, reasonable and acceptable Masterplan has received the go-ahead. A minimum effort at achieving consensus as to what development is acceptable is essential.

The Planning Authority is unfortunately insensitive to public opinion. It is amply clear that it, and those who appoint most of its Board members, are on the same wavelength as the development lobby, which is hell-bent on making hay while the sun shines. At this point in time, it is the turn of the St George’s Bay area.

The project is obviously recommended for approval in the 43-page report from the Planning Directorate.

The basic point of contention with such large-scale projects is that they are considered in isolation. Most of them would never get off the drawing board (real or virtual) if the consolidated impact of all neighbouring projects (existing or in the pipeline) are taken into account. Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to address similar concerns to the EIA public consultation on the db Group ITS site project.

Five large-scale projects are earmarked for St George’s Bay. Each will generate considerable havoc from excavation throughout construction and right through operation in the whole St George’s Bay area. Cumulatively it will be hell. Who cares?

Way back in 2006, when the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive of the EU was about to be implemented in Malta, the Lawrence Gonzi – George Pullicino tandem rushed through the approval of the Local Plans in such a manner as to ensure that the accumulated environmental impact resulting from their implementation was not scrutinised and acted upon. The present state of affairs is the direct result of that irresponsible Gonzi-Pullicino action 12 years ago.

The Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) occasionally tries to patch things up. For example, within the framework of the ITS EIA exercise ERA suggested that the traffic assessment of the ITS and the Villa Rosa projects be consolidated. This has, however, been avoided: a case of too little, too late.

So where do we go from here?

The development lobby is maximising its efforts to make hay while the sun shines. In reality, a consolidated mess is taking shape with massively built-up areas in a relatively restricted space punctured by high rises mimicking phallic symbols of all shapes and sizes spread all over the place. Pender Place has 23 floors. Mercury House will have 31. The ITS phallus will have a 37-floor residential tower. The Villa Rosa/Cresta Quay project will have more modest heights.

Next Thursday, the Planning Authority has the opportunity to scrutinise the proposal for this Villa Rosa-Cresta Quay project. We will see once more the extent to which the concrete lobby still holds the Authority by its balls – obviously where this is applicable.

 

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday – 18 February 2018

L-Ippjanar rasu l-isfel

Nhar l-Erbgħa, l-Kumitat Parlamentari dwar l-Ambjent u l-Ippjanar beda d-diskussjoni dwar jekk għandux ikun hemm tibdil fil-politika dwar il-pompi tal-petrol (u d-disil) (Fuel Service Stations Policy) tal-Awtorità tal-Ippjanar. Bla dubju kien xprunat mid-deċiżjonijiet riċenti tal-istess awtorità dwar pompi tal-petrol f’f’Burmarrad, Marsaskala u l-Magħtab. Hemm applikazzjonijiet pendenti għal pompi ġodda f’Ħ’Attard, l-Imqabba u l-Iklin fil-waqt li hemm madwar 60 pompa oħra qed jistennew il-permessi mill-Awtorità tal-Ippjanar biex itejbu l-faċilitajiet inkluż protezzjoni ambjentali u dan minn total eżistenti ta’ 85 pompa.

Il-kummenti validi kienu bosta. Ikkonċentraw l-iktar fuq il-ħtieġa li l-pompi tal-petrol fiż-żona urbana jingħalqu u li dawn jiċċaqalqu xi mkien ieħor. Ftit iżda kien hemm ħeġġa biex tkun diskussa l-qalba tal-materja: xi bżonn għandna tal-pompi tal-petrol?

Madwar ħames xhur ilu, il-Prim Ministru, wara li għal darba oħra ħares ħarsa sewwa lejn il-Manifest Elettorali ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika tal-2017, ħabbar, li l-Gvern immexxi minnu kien ser jagħti bidu għal process ta’ konsultazzjoni pubblika. Dan biex jistabilixxi data minn meta karozzi li jaħdmu bil-petrol u d-disil ma jkunux jistgħu jinbiegħu iktar biex minflok ikollna karozzi li jaħdmu bl-elettriku. Ma smajna xejn iktar dwar dan ħlief artiklu miktub mill-Ministru tat-Trasport Ian Borg entużjażmat li fis-snin li ġejjin ser nimxu fuq il-passi ta’ pajjiżi Ewropej oħra.

Il-Prim Ministru, bir-raġun kollu emfasizza li din il-bidla fil-politika tal-Gvern kienet meħtieġa minħabba li l-emmissjonijiet tal-karozzi kienu l-ikbar sors ta’ tniġġiż tal-arja fil-pajjiż. Għalfejn dan id-dewmien kollu biex ikunu stabiliti u mħabbra d-dettalji ta’ din id-deċiżjoni tajba? Uħud mill-pajjiżi Ewropej ilhom żmien li għamlu dan. In-Norveġja u l-Olanda stabilew is-sena 2025, il-Ġermanja qed tikkonsidra s-sena 2030, fil-waqt li Franza u r-Renju Unit huma mħajra għas-sena 2040 biex iwaqqfu l-bejgħ ta’ karozzi li jaħdmu bil-petrol u d-disil.

Id-diskussjoni dwar il-politika li tikkonċerna l-pompi tal-petrol/disil għandha issir f’kuntest wiesgħa tal-politika tat-trasport inkluż l-elettrifikazzjoni tal-mezzi privati tat-trasport.

Il-punt ewlieni tad-diskussjoni huwa li bħala riżultat tal-elettrifikazzjoni n-numru ta’ pompi tal-petrol/disel meħtieġa mhux ser jiżdied imma ser jonqos fuq medda ta’ snin u dan sakemm jasal għal xejn jew kważi xejn. Allura għalfejn nibnu u ninkoraġixxu l-bini ta’ iktar pompi tal-petrol/disil? Ikun ferm iktar għaqli kieku l-investiment nindirizzawh lejn is-soluzzjoni tal-problemi, mhux lejn it-tkattir tagħhom!

Il-pompi tal-petrol eżistenti fiż-żoni urbani qed jintużaw bħala skuża biex jippruvaw jiġġustifikaw it-tħarbit ta’ 3000 metru kwadru ta’ art. Fil-fatt dan hu l-iskop ewlieni tal-politika dwar il-pompi tal-fjuwil approvata fl-2015.

Ma jkunx aħjar li flok ma jingħalqu l-pompi tal-petrol fl-abitat ikunu konvertiti f’lok fejn tiċċarġja l-batteriji tal-karozzi? Dawn il-pompi qegħdin fil-parti l-kbira tagħhom f’żoni ċentrali u huma ġeneralment ta’ qies żgħir. Kull pompa tal-petrol urbana li tkun salvata u konvertita biex fiha niċċarġjaw il-batteriji tfisser ukoll li nkunu salvajna 3000 metru kwadru ta’ art minn spekulazzjoni. Fl-istess ħin inkunu qed nippovdu servizz li ser ikun essenzjali eżatt fejn hu meħtieġ.

Dan ikun użu tajjeb għall-investiment, aħjar milli jintuża f’bini ta’ pompi ġodda barra miż-żona ta’ l-iżvilupp. Jekk dan isir inkunu qed nittrasformaw problema eżistenti f’diversi lokalitajiet f’soluzzjoni addattata għall-bini tal-infrastruttura meħtieġa għall-eletrifikazzjoni tat-trasport privat f’Malta.

Dan ovvjament ifisser li nkunu qed naqilbu ta’ taħt fuq il-politika dwar il-pompi tal-fjuwil. Flok ma nużaw il-pompi urbani bħala skuża biex tkun ġustifikata l-ispekulazzjoni tal-art inkunu qed nagħtu spinta tajba lill-ħarsien ambjentali.

Hu eżattament dan li għandna bżonn f’dan il-mument: naqilbu l-ippjanar rasu l-isfel.

 

Ippubblikat fuq Illum : Il-Ħadd 4 ta’ Frar 2018

 

Turning the Fuel Service Stations Policy on its head

Last Wednesday, the Parliamentary Environment and Land Use Planning Committee discussed the possible revision of the Fuel Service Stations Policy. The three development permits issued in the past weeks by the Planning Authority for fuel service stations at Burmarrad, Marsaskala and Magħtab without doubt was the spark that motivated the discussion. Among the pending applications, Attard, Mqabba and Iklin are queuing for new service stations, while over 60 more, from a current total of 85 stations are awaiting the Planning Authority go-ahead for upgrading.

A number of valid observations were made. Most of the discussion dealt with the need to relocate service stations currently within urban areas but there was, however, a reluctance to address head-on the real issue: do we need fuel service stations?

Almost five months ago, the Prime Minister – taking a leaf from Alternattiva Demokratika’s 2017 election manifesto – announced that his government will be launching a public consultation to establish a cut-off date for the sale of diesel and petrol cars in Malta and the use of only electricity-driven vehicles instead. We have not heard much more about this proposal, apart for an article by Transport Minister Ian Borg who wrote about following in the footsteps of other European countries in “phasing out new petrol and diesel vehicles in the next few decades”.

The Prime Minister has rightly emphasised that this change in policy is required in view of the fact that vehicle emissions are the largest source of pollution in Malta, but why wait so long to put flesh on the bare bones of the declared policy? Other European countries have already determined their cut-off date. Norway and the Netherlands are considering the year 2025, Germany is considering 2030, while France and the United Kingdom are opting for the year 2040 by which to halt the sale of diesel and petrol vehicles.

Revisiting the Fuel Service Stations Policy should not be discussed in a vacuum. It has to be placed in the context of related transport policies and in particular the fact (hopefully) that Malta should now be going electric.

The main issue clearly is that, as a result of going electric, the number of fuel service stations required will at some point in the future – hopefully the not so very distant future – will be next to nil. So why build more of them? Why encourage investment in something that is not needed? It would be much better to channel investment into resolving problems instead of adding to them.

The relocation of urban area fuel service stations – the main thrust of the Fuel Service Stations Policy approved in 2015 – is being used to justify the uptake of 3,000 square metres of land. But instead of relocating the existing service stations in urban areas, would it not be much better if these were converted into charging stations? These service stations are centrally located and mostly of a relatively small size. Every conversion one into a charging station would potentially save 3000 square metres of land in the middle of nowhere and simultaneously provide the service of electrically charging vehicles right where that service is required: in our urban areas.

It is towards the conversion of these fuel stations that investment should be channelled. They can be transformed from being a problem in our residential communities to being an integral and focal part of the strategy to develop a suitable, reliable and – above all – sustainable infrastructure so necessary for the electrification of private transport.

This would obviously turn the Fuel Service Stations policy upside down. Instead of using urban service stations as an excuse to trigger more land speculation, it is about time to inject some environmental considerations right where they are most needed.

This is what we need right now: the turning of the Fuel Service Stations Policy on its head.

 

published on the Malta Independent on Sunday : 4 February 2018

L-arresti ta’ dalgħodu: mossa biex tiddevja l-attenzjoni ?

L-arresti li saru mill-Pulizija dal-għodu in konnessjoni ma’ suspett ta’ involviment fil-qtil tal-Daphne Caruana Galizia jista’ jkunu pass il-quddiem.

Wara xahar u nofs mill-qtil ta’ Daphne Caruana Galizia dawn l-għaxar arresti f’daqqa jistgħu jfissru riżultat ta’ ħidma kbira li diġa saret, imma jistgħu jkunu ukoll smokescreen, jiġifieri mossa biex tiddevja l-attenzjoni!

Ovvjament mhux kulħadd jaqbel mal-pass li ħa l-Prim Ministru li jħabbar f’konferenza stampa dak li kien qiegħed jiġri. Dan jista’ jkollu konsegwenzi negattivi avolja l-Prim Ministru qal li kien qiegħed attent, anke fuq parir li ħa mibgħand l-Avukat Ġenerali, biex jevita dan kollu.

Madwar 14-il sena ilu l-Prim Ministru ta’ dakinnhar Eddie Fenech Adami ukoll kien mar quddiem l-istampa biex iħabbar l-investigazzjoni tal-Prim Imħallef u Imħallef ieħor. Niftakru li dan kollu kien għoddu spiċċa ħażin għax l-akkużati ppruvaw jeħilsuha ħafif minħabba f’hekk.

Mhux faċli li taqta’ linja dwar safejn għandek tasal.

Hu fatt li l-Gvern, u Joseph Muscat in partikolari, qiegħed f’posizzjoni xejn faċli minħabba l-implikazzjonijiet politiċi ta’ kull ma jseħħ jew ma jseħħx in konnessjoni ma dan il-każ. Hi problema ikbar minħabba l-fatt li l-Kummissarju tal-Pulizja mhux persuna addattata biex tindirizza lill-istampa!

Issa x’ser jiġri, qed jistaqsu bosta?

Dan jiddependi minn dak li għandhom f’idejhom il-Pulizija. Għax jekk l-arresti huma l-bidu tal-investigazzjoni ftit wieħed jista’ jgħid x’ser jiġri. Imma jekk min-naħa l-oħra l-arresti huma riżultat ta’ informazzjoni oħra li nġabret mill-Pulizija, allura l-affarijiet ikunu jistgħu jħaffu minn hawn il-quddiem, b’mod partikolari jekk l-istampa tibda tiċċara u l-provi miġbura jagħqdu waħda mal-oħra.

Minkejja l-kritika indirizzata lejn il-Pulizija naħseb li dawn għamlu tajjeb li ma svelawx x’informazzjoni kellhom f’idejhom (jekk kellhom). Għadu kmieni wisq għal dan, b’mod partikolari jekk għadhom m’għalqux il-kaz, kif jidher.

Bla dubju fil-ġranet li ġejjin nistgħu nibdew nieħdu idea dwar jekk il-kaz ingħalaqx inkella jekk għadux kemm infetaħ.