Readers of The Malta Independent online have overwhelmingly voted for the site of the fallen Dwejra arch, or Azure Window, to be left “as is”.
On 8 March Gozo’s iconic natural arch fell victim to the elements after a night of particularly tempestuous weather. Prime Minister Joseph Muscat promptly called for an “international initiative” on what to do with the site. Shortly after, no less than four cabinet ministers addressed the press to say that the government state was considering seven options. These options were presented on the online portal of The Malta Independent in the form of a poll. The results are as follows:
Leaving the site as it is (68%), the artificial recreation of the structure (9%), use of digital technology and augmented reality to recreate the site for tech users (7%), an operation to recover parts of the structure from the sea and put them up for view (5%), Artistic installation/s at or near the site where the structure was (4%), Enhancement of an interpretation centre that would recall the structure in all its beauty (4%) and lastly, any other innovative and creative idea that as per above must conform to environment conservation (3%).
Last week this newspaper sought reactions from various environmental NGOs about the ideas being considered by the government. Flimkien Ghal Ambjent Ahjar called on the government to refrain from capitalising on public sentiment and sensationalising the issue, preferring it to take control of situations that it is able to, such as the preservation of historical buildings. Friends of the Earth called on the government to leave the site as is, and called on any funds that would have been earmarked for launching a project where the Azure Window site is to be diverted to other Natura2000 sites and sites of ecological importance to assist in preservation.
The Azure Window, a major attraction for both locals and tourists, served as a backdrop in popular entertainment projects such as Game of Thrones, and evoked a massive public reaction after the news emerged that it collapsed into the sea.
Over the last few years, the deterioration of the window became increasingly apparent, prompting authorities to ban walking atop the structure, by penalty of a fine. Critics argue that this was not enforced, however geologists widely believe that any measures taken, while possibly prolonging the life of the Azure Window, would still not have been enough, and that the collapse was unavoidable.
The poll on the online portal of this newsroom is not a scientific one, meaning it is not weighted to reflect the population at large. It serves as a snapshot of what TMI readers feel should be done with the site, in reaction to what the government itself announced.