The Malta Independent 27 May 2019, Monday

Perverse logic about Gozo

Sunday, 21 April 2019, 08:15 Last update: about 2 months ago

The Minister for Transport, Ian Borg, has said that a metro connection to Gozo is not economically feasible. I would like to ask: Is the massive project being undertaken on the widening of roads in Malta  economically viable? Is Malta Public Transport economically feasible? There will be no economic return in the short-term but it helps to improve the quality of life for the Maltese. In 2013, even Transport London was receiving a grant of £591 million pounds a year but it is never argued that it is not economically viable. It makes transport so much easier and improves the quality of life.

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I think we should decide on an underground metro covering Malta and maybe with a link to Gozo. As an aside, my impression is that while the roads of Malta are being improved, for those in Gozo time has stood still, albeit they are slowly depreciating.

Franco Mercieca, Chairman of the Malta-Gozo Tunnel Steering Committee, is talking in half-truths – sometimes sounding  idyllic, and at other times not logical in his argument. He mentions the 82 per cent of Gozo residents who are in favour of the tunnel. I think what Gozo residents really want is better connectivity with Malta but not the disfigurement of their island. There is the art of prudence and balance and it should be practised: even more so if the project is so big.

Gozo’s connectivity can be improved without providing a tunnel for cars. A metro would improve connectivity without flooding it with vehicles. 
And it is not true to say that this Government has diversified or improved connectivity. Nothing has been done. Liberalisation of the sector would greatly improve connectivity – as it has done in all other sectors. But there is a lot of inertia. Maybe it is because the Company is serving as a job-giving opportunity.
Mr Mercieca hints that, without a tunnel, Gozitan residents would be deprived of employment, social opportunities and modern lifestyles. A metro would serve this end better without the disadvantages.

 He said that a tunnel would save Gozo from only being attractive to the poorer sections of society. I beg to differ. Gozo is not a slum area, but a tunnel for cars may have this effect and may remove Gozo’s distinctive quality.
It is with a wry smile when I read that, according to Mr Mercieca, strict development policies will protect Gozo from over-development. Even now, all the cake is being eaten by those who have the money to invest, whether it is clean or not. Gozo will no longer be attractive and will be left destitute and ruined like the small island of Nauru. All the ridges that can be built upon have been ruined and now development has started below the ridges as in Hal Saghtrija , Zebbug and I hear that a permit is to be issued for the construction  of bungalows below the old cemetery in Nadur.

All this talk about a centre of excellence for health in Gozo  is laughable when Mater Dei remains managed by the Government. And a centre of excellence for education is hard to conceive when there are plans to build a primary school on the site of an already existing school.

These points are why I conclude that all this propaganda is perverse logic.

 

Joe Portelli

Nadur

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