Il-mina t’Għawdex: ħmar il-lejl

Il-Ministru Ian Borg, iktar kmieni din il-ġimgħa, infurmana li kien qed jaħdem biex iwettaq il-ħolma ta’ diversi Għawdxin billi jmexxi l-quddiem il-proċess tal-mina taħt qiegħ il-baħar bejn Malta u Għawdex. Wara dibattitu li ilu għaddej is-snin hu ċar li iktar milli jwettaq il-ħolm ikun aħjar jekk Ian Borg jipprepara ruħu għal ħmar il-lejl.

Saru studji ġejoloġiċi imma lanqas il-konklużjonijiet ġenerali dwarhom ma nafu. Għadhom mistura qieshom xi sigriet tal-istat. Tliet snin ilu l-ġejoloġista Peter Gatt kien ġibed l-attenzjoni għall-fatt li l-mina tal-Enemalta bejn il-power station tal-Marsa u Delimara kienet swiet id-doppju ta’ dak ippjanat u dan minħabba kollass tal-blat f’diversi punti matul il-mina nnifisha. Dan kien seħħ bħala riżultat tan-nuqqas ta’ informazzjoni ġejoloġika meta ġiet imfassla l-mina. Kieku dan kellu jseħħ waqt li jkun għaddej ix-xogħol fuq il-mina bejn Malta u Għawdex hu inevitabbli li jkollna problemi kbar, inkluż possibilment numru ta’ mwiet.

Hu fatt magħruf li fil-Fliegu hemm diversi kisriet ġejoloġiċi (geological faults). Tajjeb li nirrealizzaw li tnejn mill-proposti għall-mina, li saru minn Mott MacDonald, il-konsulenti ta’ Transport Malta, jgħaddu minn dawn il-kisriet.

Li jkunu eżaminati l-kampjuni tal-blat f’laboratorju, anke jekk għal ftit ġimgħat, bla dubju jżid l-għarfien tal-ġejoloġija taż-żona imma dan mhux biżżejjed biex fuqu jittieħdu deċiżjonijiet dwar id-diżinn tal-proġett. Biżżejjed nifhmu li minkejja l-istudji ġejoloġiċi dettaljati fuq numru kbir ta’ snin, ix-xogħol fuq il-mina bejn l-Ingilterra u Franza, iċ-Channel Tunnel, kellu jieqaf u jkun devjat diversi drabi minħabba li t-tħaffir iltaqa’ ma problemi ġejoloġici li ma kien hemm l-ebda indikazzjoni tagħhom fl-istudji dettaljati!

L-istudji serji jieħdu ż-żmien biex isiru: ma jistgħux ikunu mgħaġġla minħabba data determinata minn agenda politika.

Tliet snin ilu, Transport Malta, flimkien mal-Kamra tal-Kummerċ Għawdxija kkummissjonaw studju ekonomiku, ferm qabel ma biss bdew l-istudji ġejoloġiċi. L-istudju kien intitolat Establishing a Permanent Link between the Island of Gozo and Mainland Malta: An Economic Cost Benefit Analysis of Available Strategic Options, li kien sar minn E-Cubed Consultants. Dan l-istudju kien argumenta li t-traffiku bejn il-gżejjer kien ipproġettat li fuq perjodu ta’ 15il sena jiżdied minn medja ta’ 3000 moviment kuljum għal 9000 moviment kuljum. Argument li jmur kontra l-Pjan Nazzjonali għat-Trasport approvat fl-2015 ukoll.

Il-mina proposta teħtieġ ammont kritiku ta’ movimenti ta’ karozzi li jħallsu biex jgħaddu mill-mina u per konsegwenza minn fuqhom jinġabru l-ispejjes tal-mina kif ukoll il-profitti tal-operaturi. Fi ftit kliem il-mina, biex tirnexxi tiddependi minn moviment kbir ta’ karozzi kuljum. Dan imur kontra l-politika dwar it-trasport tal-lum, li ta’ l-inqas fuq il-karta, timmira għal tnaqqis ta’ karozzi mit-toroq tagħna. Din hi materja li bla dubju għandha tkun eżaminat mill-istudju fuq l-impatti ambjentali (EIA) dwar il-mina proposta. Dan l-istudju għadu fl-istadji inizzjali tiegħu u dan wara li l-Awtorità dwar l-Ambjent u r-Riżorsi ftit ġimgħat ilu approvat dak li għandu jkun indirizzat (terms of reference) minn dan l-istudju. L-EIA hu stadju essenzjali li minnu jeħtieġ li jgħaddi l-proġett.

Għaldaqstant, kien irresponsabbli l-Ministru tat-Trasport, meta, iktar kmieni din il-ġimgħa, ħabbar li fi żmien sitt xhur kienet ħierġa sejħa internazzjonali għall-offerti għall-mina bejn Malta u Għawdex. Dan ifisser li dawn l-istudji huma irrelevanti? Fl-opinjoni tiegħi il-Ministru  qiegħed jagħti  dan il-messaġġ ċar u tond.

Din hi l-agħar forma ta’ governanza ħażina għax jimmina l-isforzi tal-awtoritajiet fil-qadi ta’ dmirijiethom. B’dan il-ħsieb jiena ktibt lill-Ombudsman u tlabtu jinvestiga dan in-nuqqas ta’ governanza tajba. Il-Gvern għandu jkollu l-paċenzja li jistenna sakemm ikunu konklużi l-istudji ambjentali qabel ma jieħu d-deċiżjonijiet.

 

Ippubblikat fuq Illum : Il-Ħadd 16 ta’ Diċembru 2018

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Gozo tunnel nightmares

Minister Ian Borg informed us, earlier this week, that he seeks to turn into reality a Gozitan “long-held dream” by starting the process for a Malta-Gozo tunnel below the seabed. After debating the matter for years, it is clear that rather more than dreams, Ian Borg should prepare himself for a nightmare.

Geological studies have now been carried out and the results therof are being treated as some state secret. Three years ago, geologist Peter Gatt had drawn attention to the fact that the Enemalta tunnel between the Marsa power station and Delimara had a cost overrun of 100 per cent as a result of rock collapse along several points of the tunnel. This had occurred due to inadequate geological information fed into the design process. If the same were to happen during the Malta-Gozo tunnel works, a series of disasters, including possibly loss of life, would be inevitable.

It is a known fact that the Gozo channel is full of geological faults. It is pertinent to note that two of the tunnel options put forward by Transport Malta advisors Mott MacDonald pass through an active fault in the Gozo channel.

Taking borehole samples and examining them in a laboratory over a few weeks certainly increases our knowledge of the geology of the area but it is nowhere near the sufficient knowledge on the basis of which one can conclude the design parameters of the project. Suffice it to point out that notwithstanding the detailed geological studies spanning over many years and underpinning planning for the Channel Tunnel linking Folkestone in Kent and Coquelles near Calais, the drilling of the tunnel had to be deviated at certain points because of unpredicted geological formations.

Serious studies take years to conclude: they cannot be rushed to meet a deadline set by a political agenda.

Feasibility studies have been carried out some time ago, long before the geological studies were even taken in hand. Three years ago, the Gozo Business Chamber in conjunction with Transport Malta commissioned a study entitled Establishing a Permanent Link between the Island of Gozo and Mainland Malta: An Economic Cost Benefit Analysis of Available Strategic Options. In the study, which was carried out by E-Cubed Consultants, it was argued that the average annual daily traffic (AADT) between the islands is projected to increase from 3000 to 9000 vehicle movements over a 15-year period.

This feasibility study makes assumptions which run counter to the National Transport Master Plan objective of reducing cars from our roads.

Basically, the proposed tunnel requires a critical mass of vehicular movements which would be subject to the payment of a toll and hence contribute to the recovery of the capital outlay, maintenance costs and profits. This runs counter to current Maltese Transport policy, which (at least on paper) aims to reduce the use of private cars from our roads.

This is an issue which would undoubtedly be examined by the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) on the proposed Tunnel which study is currently in its initial stages after the Environment and Resources Authority recently approved the terms of reference of such a study. The EIA is an essential stage of the assessment of the project.

It was therefore irresponsible for the Minister of Transport, earlier this week, to announce that within six months an international call for tenders would be issued relative to the Malta-Gozo undersea Tunnel. Does this mean that the government considers the EIA irrelevant? This, in my opinion is the clear message being conveyed.

It is the worst form of bad governance as it undermines the efforts of the established authorities in carrying out their responsibilities. With this in mind, I have written to the Ombudsman and asked him to investigate this breach of good governance. Government should have the patience of awaiting the outcome of the EIA before taking any further decisions.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday : 16 December 2018

Fejn sejra l-Air Malta ?

air malta branding

L-istorja tat-Times illum dwar il-bejgħ ta’ parti sostanzjali mill-Air Malta lil Etihad Airways tal-Emirati Għarab Magħquda ilha ġejja.

Wara l-privatizzazzjoni parzjali tal-Enemalta issa jmiss il-privatizzazzjoni parzjali tal-Air Malta. It-tnejn minn partit politiku li meta kien fl-Opposizzjoni dejjem tkellem kontra l-privatizzazzjoni imma meta jkun fil-Gvern jinsa’ kollox. Għamilha fl-Enemalta u issa jmiss lill-Air Malta.

Matul il-ġimgħat li ġejjin jibdew ħerġin l-ewwel dettalji tat-tibdil li jridu jwettqu l-Etihad Airways fil-mod kif topera l-linja tal-ajru, u l-impatt ta’ dan it-tibdil fuq il-ħaddiema tal-Air Malta. Il-komunikazzjoni tal-proposti ser ikun eserċizzju interessanti. Imma iktar minn hekk ser tkun interessanti r-reazzjoni tal-Unions rikonoxxuti.

Ovvjament il-Unions ser jirreaġixxu skond il-proposti li jippreżentawlhom. Imma frankament mhux qed nimmaġina proposti ta’ żieda fil-pagi u fl-allowances u l-anqas titjib fil-kundizzjonijiet tax-xogħol.

Ser ikunu żminijiet interessanti fejn ser inkunu nistgħu naraw il-konsistenza (jew in-nuqqas tagħha) tal-protagonisti.

 

 

L-idejaliżmu ta’ Marlene

Marlene Farrugia2

L-intervista ta’ Marlene fuq Reporter ta’ nhar it-Tnejn li għadda hi xhieda tal-idealiżmu tagħha.

Baqgħet tittama li l-partit li f’ismu ġiet eletta fil-Parlament jiftaħ għajnejh u jirrealizza illi għandu programm elettorali li wiegħed li jwettaq. Tħoss li l-iktar rabta importanti tagħha hi mal-programm elettorali u mhux mal-partit li bosta drabi jidher li nesa’ dak li wiegħed.

Għalhekk għażlet li tkun indipendenti. Tinsisti li hi baqgħet lealissima lejn dak li ġie imwiegħed biex inkisbu il-voti fl-elezzjoni ġenerali. Huwa dan li jimmotiva l-ħidma tagħha, għax, għaliha, l-lejaltà lejn l-idejal fil-politika tiġi qabel il-lejaltà lejn il-partit. Għax il-partit mhux qiegħed hemm biex jistaħbew warajh!

Fuq quddiem fil-lista tad-diżappunti ta’ Marlene hemm in-nuqqas ta’ trasparenza fil-ħidma tal-Gvern. Hemm ukoll il-privatizzazzjoni tal-Enemalta b’sehem fiha issa f’idejn is-Shanghai Electric Power (ksur sfaċċat ta’ wegħda elettorali Laburista), n-nuqqas ta’ politika ambjentali sura u bosta affarijiet oħra.

Marlene vuċi fid-deżert?  Ma jidhirx li kien hemm wisq appoġġ għall-posizzjoni tagħha fil-grupp parlamentari laburista għax bosta kienu dawk li beżgħu mir-riperkussjonijiet fuq il-karriera politika tagħhom kieku għażlu li jlissnu kelma. Dan minkejja li l-grupp parlamentari laburista ġie imġenneb diversi drabi: kien isir jaf b’diversi deċiżjonijiet mill-gazzetti.

Quddiem dawn l-affarijiet kollha, hu ta’ sodisfazzjon li Marlene għadha titbaqbaq favur l-idejal : li sservi lin-nies, dejjem b’konsistenza mal-programm elettorali li tpoġġa quddiem l-elettorat f’Marzu 2013.

Salvu Balzan u meta tiċċaqlaq id-dubbiena

Saviour Balzan

Ix-xhieda ta’ Salvu Balzan quddiem il-Kumitat għall-kontijiet pubbliċi tagħti l-istampa l-kbira tax-xibka mifruxa madwar il-Korporazzjoni Enemalta dwar l-iskandlu tax-xiri taż-żejt.

Hemm numru ta’ osservazzjonijiet validi ħafna li jagħmel Salvu Balzan.

L-osservazzjoni prinċipali hi bla dubju immirata lejn dawk li qatt ma jkunu jafu xejn meta għandhom il-fama li anke meta tiċċaqlaq dubbiena jkun jafu, kemm x’ħin kif ukoll għaliex tkun iċċaqalqet.

Huma interessanti l-kliem attribwiti lil George Farrugia fis-sens li jekk jinkixef il-każ jaqa’ l-Gvern. Fil-fatt il-Gvern kien diġa moribond meta inkixef il-każ u bla dubju li kieku l-każ inkixef qabel il-Gvern immexxi minn Lawrence Gonzi kien ikollu diffikultajiet ferm iktar milli kellu matul l-aħħar ftit xhur tal-eżistenza tiegħu.

Il-każ tal-ħlas ta’ €5 miljuni kumpens lix-Shell f’Malta minħabba l-ostakli għas-suq tal-fuel tal-avjazzjoni iqajjem żewg punti ta’ importanza kbira. Dan il-każ kien il-bozza l-ħamra għal min kien qiegħed imexxi . Kienet indikazzjoni  li kien hemm xi ħaġa mhux f’postha. Iktar inkwetanti hu s-sehem ta’ Simon Busuttil, meta kien Membru tal-Parlament Ewropew, bħala konsulent legali tax-Shell fin-negozjati mal-Gvern Malti dwar il-likwidazzjoni tad-danni li sofrew. Is-sehem tiegħu jixegħel bożża ħamra oħra dwar kemm jintqal ħafna paroli dwar l-etika imma fis-siegħa tal-prova donnu jintesa kollox.

Meta tqis kollox jibqa’ l-fatt li hemm dubju serju kemm kien jagħmel sens li George Farrugia jingħata l-maħfra presidenzjali.

Nota:

Inġibdet l-attenzjoni tiegħi li b’referenza għax-xhieda ta’ Salvu Balzan fil-Kumitat għall-Kontijiet Pubbliċi tal-Parlament, u kif anke ippubblikata fil-Malta Today online, l-Kap tal-Opposizzjoni bagħat risposta għall-pubblikazzjoni. Qed nippubblika jiena ukoll din ir-risposta in vista tal-kummenti tiegħi ta’ hawn fuq:

Simon Busuttil right of reply 061115

Premju għal min abbuża

temporary electricity supply

L-Enemalta qed tilqa’ applikazzjonijiet biex ikun regolarizzat is-servizz tal-elettriku fil-boathouses diversi f’Malta u Għawdex.

L-Enemalta qed tgħid li s-serq tal-elettriku jonqos drastikament jekk jingħata dan is-servizz. Iridu jsiru ħlasijiet diversi minn min japplika.

Donna li l-Enemalta ma tafx li s-serq tal-elettriku jonqos b’rata iktar drastika jekk jitwaqqgħu l-boathouses illegali.

Għax li qed jiġri issa hu li min seraq l-art biex fuqha għandu l-boathouse, bħal dawk tal-Aħrax tal-Mellieħa, qed jitħalla jgawdi dak li seraq, bil-kundizzjoni li jħallas tal-elettriku. Ikun ħafna aħjar jekk isir il-ħlas tal-elettriku misruq u tittieħed lura mill-Gvern l-art misruqa.

Is-serq hu kollu kundannabbli. Mhux biss is-serq tal-elettriku. Anke s-serq tal-art.

 

Il-petrol u d-diesil ser jorħos?

 

petrol

Nafu, għax il-medja tfakkarna l-ħin kollu, li l-prezz taż-żejt fis-swieq internazzjonali niżel sewwa. Għalfejn mela f’Malta għad ma raħsux il-prezz tal-petrol u d-diesel għall-konsumatur? Il-prezz għadu għoli meta tqabblu mal-prezzijiet fil-parti l-kbira tal-pajjiżi l-oħra tal-Unjoni Ewropea.

Għandu l-Gvern iraħħas il-prezz, jew għandu jħallih kif inhu?

Sa issa l-Gvern permezz tal-Korporazzjoni Enemalta mexa billi perjodikament aġġusta l-prezzijiet skond kemm il-petrol u id-diesel kienu ser jiġu jiswew lilu.

Il-prezz tal-petrol bla ċomb bħalissa hu ta’ €1.35 il-litru li minnhom €0.73 huma taxxi. Min-naħa l-oħra, l-prezz tad-diesel bħalissa hu ta’ €1.28 li minnhom €0.543 huma taxxi. It-taxxi fuq il-petrol u d-diesel ivarjaw minn pajjiż għall-ieħor, bħalma jvarjaw ukoll il-prezzijiet. Il-prezz tal-petrol bla ċomb f’xi pajjiżi jinbiegħ għola minn Malta. Hemm iżda diversi pajjiżi fl-Unjoni Ewropea fejn jinbiegħ orħos, fosthom is-segwenti : l-Polonja (€1.116-il litru), l-Estonia (€1.129), l-Awstrija (€1.142), il-Latvia (€1.146), il-Litwanja (€1.17), l-Ungerija (€1.173), il-Bulgarija (€1.176), il-Lussimburgo (€1.195), ir-Repubblika Ċeka (€1.221), ir-Rumanija (€1.222),  Spanja (€1.251), il-Kroatja (€1.275), Ċipru (€1.286) u s-Slovenja (€1.331).

Il-lista ta’ pajjiżi tal-UE fejn id-diesel jinbiegħ irħas minn Malta hi ferm itwal. L-irħas prezz huwa dak tal-Litwanja fejn jinbiegħ €0.93 il-litru. Min-naħa l-oħra fl-Italja jinbiegħ €1.458 u fir-Renju Unit jinbiegħ €1.509 il-litru.

Għandu jorħos il-prezz tal-petrol bla ċomb u tad-diesel f’Malta?

L-argumenti favur li jorħos il-prezz tal-petrol u d-diesel huma ta’ spejjes inqas għall-konsumatur.

L-argumenti kontra tnaqqis fil-prezz huma argumenti ta’ natura ambjentali. Għax prezz għoli ifisser attenzjoni iżjed fil-konsum filwaqt li prezz li jitbaxxa jinkoraġixxi l-laxkezza fil-konsum.

Dan l-argument biex il-prezz tal-petrol u d-diesel ma jorħosx ikun validu, anzi validu ħafna, meta jkollna transport pubbliku li jaħdem sewwa, u b’hekk ikun jista’ joffri servizz effiċjenti u alternattiv. Ilkoll nirrikonoxxu li hemm titjib fis-servizz imma dan għadu mhux biżżejjed biex iħajjar lin-nies jagħmlu iktar użu mit-trasport pubbliku flok ma jutilizzaw karozzi privati u b’hekk jonqsu l-karozzi fit-toroq tagħna.

Ilkoll nafu li l-kwalità tal-arja f’Malta l-iktar li hi effettwata hi mill-emissjonijiet tal-karozzi, kemm dawk li jużaw il-petrol kif ukoll dawk li jagħmlu użu mid-diesel. Jekk jonqsu dawn l-emmissjonjijiet ser ikollna titjib fil-kwalità tal-arja. Dan jista’ iseħħ billi jintużaw karozzi li jagħmlu użu minn teknoloġija differenti, bħall-karozzi li jaħdmu bl-elettriku jew bil-gass, inkella billi jintuża t-trasport pubbliku flok il-karozzi privati. Dan ovvjament apparti li nimxu fejn possibli inkella li tintuża r-rota.

L-għażla, eventwalment trid issir min-nies individwalment. Imma l-Gvern dejjem jista’ jimbotta ftit biex jinkoraġixxi lil dak li jkun biex jibdel l-imġieba tiegħu u b’hekk jagħti l-kontribut tiegħu għall-kwalità tal-arja aħjar.

Tnaqqis ta’ taxxi fuq il-karozzi li ma jniġġsux hi għajnuna li bosta gvernijiet jużaw għal dan l-iskop. Il-Gvern jista’ ukoll juża l-prezz tal-fuel, kemm dak tal-petrol bla ċomb kif ukoll dak tad-diesel bħala għodda biex iħajjar inqas nies jużaw dawn il-fuels. Hemm gvernijiet li meta għandhom trasport pubbliku li jaqdi sewwa lill-pubbliku jħallu l-prezz tal-petrol bla ċomb u tad-diesel għoli. Hekk għamel għal diversi snin il-Gvern Laburista Ingliż fil-passat billi żied t-taxxi fuq il-petrol u d-diesil.

F’dak il-każ ikun jaqbillek b’tal-linja. Ikun sinjal tajjeb meta aħna ukoll naslu sa dan il-punt, nittama f’data mhux il-bogħod. Peró naħseb li għad baqa’ ftit ieħor sa ma naslu. Imma ikun għaqli kieku l-Gvern anke f’dan l-istadju jħabbar meta jippjana li naslu f’dan l-istadju, għax ma jistax ikun li jibqgħu jiżdiedu n-numru ta’ karozzi fit-toroq.

B’dan il-mod, anke f’Malta kif jitjieb is-servizz ikun possibli li jkun inkoraġġit in-nuqqas ta’ konsum ta’ petrol u diesel, użu iktar frekwenti tat-trasport pubbliku u inqas karozzi fit-toroq u allura ngawdu arja iktar nadifa.

Il-Mulej lil min iħares?

Ray Mulej Zammit + Manwel Mallia

M’għandi l-ebda dubju li l-parti l-kbira tal-membri tal-Korp tal-Pulizija huma persuni ta’ integrità. Huwa minħabba f’hekk illi dawk li m’humiex (ta’ integrità) jistonaw u jagħmlu iktar ħoss.

F’kull żmien ikun hemm xi problemi fil-forzi tal-ordni f’kull pajjiż. Nisimgħu bihom fl-aħbarijiet. Ġieli jindunaw bihom mill-ewwel u ġieli jdumu ftit. Imma ġeneralment jeżistu strutturi u għodda legali biex il-problemi li toħloq id-dgħjufija umana jkunu iffaċċjati mill-ewwel.

Ankè f’Malta, mhux l-ewwel darba li kien hemm il-problemi fil-Korp. Problemi żgħar li issolvew qabel ma kibru, jew problemi ferm ikbar, bħal meta l-Korp tal-Pulizija kien ikkankrat fi żmien li kien Kummissarju Lawrence Pullicino li kien instab ħati ta’ kompliċità ta’ qtil ta’ persuna li kienet qed tkun interrogata.

Il-Korp tal-Pulizija ankè illum qed jiffaċċja problemi serji.

Li l-kontenut ta’ file personali ta’ fizzjal tal-Korp [l-Ispettur Elton Taliana] jispiċċa għand il-gazzetta meta l-istess file kien fl-uffiċċju tal-Kummissarju tal-Pulizija  huwa inkwetanti. Għax kif tista’ tispjega dan in-nuqqas ta’ sigurtà minn l-iktar kamra f’Malta li suppost hi sigura?

Dan l-istess bħal meta f’Diċembru li għadda r-recordings tat-teatrin bejn l-Aġent Kummissarju Raymond Zammit,  magħruf fil-Korp bħala l-Mulej, mill-Control Room tal-Korp spiċċaw għand il-Partit Nazzjonalista!

Issa ġiet ippubblikata storja oħra inkwetanti iktar minn dan kollu.

Il-familja tal-Mulej qed jingħad li hi azzjonista f’kumpaniji kummerċjali mal-familja ta’ persuna li hi taħt investigazzjoni fuq qtil li sar f’Ħal-Qormi xi snin ilu. Biex tgħaxxaqha, wieħed minn ulied il-Mulej, li sa ftit ilu kien ukoll spettur fil-korp [qabel ma sab xortih temporanjament fil-Korporazzjoni Enemalta] suppost li kien l-uffiċjal prosekutur f’dan il-każ.

Jekk il-Mulej fil-Korp ittollera (u kien parti hu u ta’ madwaru) dawn il-ħniżrijiet mhux ta’ b’xejn li ftit li xejn hemm fiduċja fil-Korp.

Kif ngħidu, l-ħuta minn rasha tinten, minn ras il-Mulej! F’dawn iċ-ċirkustanzi m’għandi l-ebda dubju lil min iħares il-Mulej. Żgur li mhux lilek, sieħbi.

 

 

 

 

The Freeport’s neighbours at Birżebbuġa

freeport.aerial viw

 

 

Two incidents occurred at the Freeport Terminal last week. The first led to the spill of an oily-like chemical when a container was accidentally hit and part of its contents spilled out into the sea. The second concerned odours resulting from the handling of fuels at the Oil Tanking Terminal.  The second accident led to the precautionary hospitalisation of six employees. The first incident, on the other hand, led to the suspension of bathing activities at Pretty Bay, Birżebbuġa for a number of days.

The accident leading to the spill occurred on Monday, 8 June at around noon. Yet on Friday, 12 June, personnel from the Civil Protection Department were still dealing with the spill as by this time water currents had moved it from the Freeport Terminal to Pretty Bay. It was only late on Tuesday, 16 June that the Environmental Health Department certified that Pretty Bay was once more fit for swimming.

 

Unfortunately, such accidents are bound to happen. That they do not happen more often is only due to adequate training and the availability of the adequately maintained equipment available on  site.

The Freeport Terminal extension – approved five years ago by MEPA and currently in hand – is intended to tap into the container movement market in the Mediterranean even further. In the coming years, this will lead to a increased activity and, consequently, the likelihood of similar but more frequent accidents happening in the future is possible.

The Freeport Terminal activity is only one of a number which, over the years, have transformed Marsaxlokk Bay into an industrial port. Delimara Power station and fish- farming  as well as the ever-present fuel reception points at the San Luċjan and Enemalta stations are other examples of industrial activity along the Marsaxlokk Bay coastline. We should also remember that, at some time in the near future, bathers at Pretty Bay will also have an enhanced landscape: they will be able to enjoy in full view a gas storage tanker permanently anchored just opposite the sandy beach, along the Delimara part of the Marsaxlokk Bay coastline. The spectacle will include its refuelling between eight and 12 times a year, with possibly three of such refuelling instances occurring during the summer bathing season.

The compatibility of this situation with the EU Seveso Directives is debatable.

All this industrial activity may be healthy when considering the general economic requirements of the country on its own. It is, however, generally incompatible with the needs of Birżebbuġa both as a residential community as well as a touristic venue.

Efforts to mitigate the impacts of this industrial activity on the residential community  of Birżebbuġa (and to an extent even on the locality of Marsaxlokk) are in place. Yet with so much going on, the effects of these mitigation measures are necessarily limited. In fact, one wonders why the decision to locate all this industrial activity in the area was not also accompanied by a decision to restrict the development of land for residential use so close to these industrial facilities. In one particular case, at il-Qajjenza in the 1980s,  residential development was accelerated in the vicinity of the then Enemalta Gas Depot. Fortunately the Gas Depot has now been closed down and decommissioned, however it has been moved to the other side of Birżebbuġa, close to the entrance of Marsaxlokk Bay at Bengħajsa.

 

The Freeport Terminal management, supported by MEPA, had also decided to extend the permissible facilities at the Freeport Terminal to include minor repair work to ships and oil rigs. The decision was only reversed when it was faced with the vociferous opposition of the Birżebbuġa residential community led by its local council.

Recently, Transport Malta has added to the summer pleasures at Birżebbuġa. It has planned a mooring area for pleasure craft and small boats adjacent to the swimming zone, right in the middle of Pretty Bay. It seems that Transport Malta does not give a fig about the impact of anti-fouling agents used on a large number of craft berthed very close to a swimming zone.

 

With all this activity going on around Pretty Bay, it is inevitable that that there will be an increase in unacceptable environmental impacts on land, air and sea. Some accidents will also be inevitable.

As a result, however, it is very possible that in future there will be further restrictions on the use of Pretty Bay as a bathing venue. One hopes that this will not be often. It is, however, unavoidable and is the direct result of the ongoing activity which is definitely incompatible with the needs and requirements of the Birżebbuġa residents.

One interesting development at the time of writing is that Hon. Marlene Farrugia, as Chairperson of Parliament’s Committee on the Environment and Development Planning, has placed last week’s incidents at the Freeport Terminal on the Parliamentary Committee’s agenda. For the time being, a request for information has been sent out. The resulting discussion will hopefully direct the spotlight on the manner in which successive governments have transformed Marsaxlokk Bay into an industrial port, in the process at times ignoring – and at other times not giving sufficient attention to the plight of the residents in the area.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday, 21 June 2015

Meta jkollok wiċċek imdellek

PAC.Farrugia.Debono.BorgCole

Ma nafx jekk hux tad-daħq jew tal-biki li fil-Parlament illum kien hemm min ilmenta li ma kienx hemm trasparenza fit-tħaddim tal-hedging.

Fl-istess ħin li qed issir dan l-ilment għaddejja x-xhieda dwar l-ikbar każ ta’ korruzzjoni fl-istorja ta’ Malta: it-tixħim fix-xiri taż-żejt. Tul dawn l-aħħar ġimgħat smajna kif f’kull livell tagħha l-Korporazzjoni Enemalta kienet mixtrija min-negozjanti taż-żejt.

Ma rrid bl-ebda mod innaqqas mill-mertu tal-argumenti li l-mod kif tħaddem il-hedging żamm il-prezzijiet milli jorħsu b’rata iktar mgħaġġla milli raħsu s’issa.  Imma f’dawn iċ-ċirkustanzi, biex titkellem dwar it-trasparenza jrid ikollok wiċċek imdellek.