The Malta Independent 22 July 2019, Monday

Trapped in the machine

Timothy Alden Sunday, 16 June 2019, 17:44 Last update: about 2 months ago

Another neighbour has suffered this week because of excavation work next door. Yet another construction worker fell to his death in a separate incident shortly after. Moviment Grafitti is now organising a protest against the tyranny of the developers and is collecting funds for the family whose home was smashed by neighbouring construction work a couple of weeks ago. A terrible pattern has emerged: Pandora’s Box has been opened.

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Let’s be clear. This country is indeed run by a cabal of developers. Whichever of the two main parties we vote for, we are voting in favour of the developers. Both Joseph Muscat and Adrian Delia subscribed to the notion that the building boom is only just beginning. Joseph Muscat has called for the revocation of permits, but work continues. Developers line the pockets of the main political parties and these political parties are therefore answerable to them. They have been bought out. Yet, despite the hellish situation of over-development in Malta, people keep backing a rotten system and keep giving a free pass for selfish men to continue looting the country.

Malta has become a gridlocked anxiety-producing machine. We have grown fat and high on the drug that is this self-destructive and short-term economic boom. We are trapped in the belly of this horrible machine and the machine is bleeding to death. The sun, which once gently warmed us during nostalgic summers, has fallen down while offensive billboards remain leering. The flags of a younger and more idealistic Malta are all dead at the top of their poles. Now even the buildings tumble in on themselves.

There is so much that needs fixing, but where does one even start? I have been saying for some time – and have been glad to see the call taken up by others – that we need to take money out of politics. We must stop private donations from businessmen to political parties. These donations are legal bribes and should be referred to as such. Bribing political parties should not be allowed. We could discuss the state-funding of political parties as an alternative.

In 2016, the NGO Sustainable Built Environment Malta warned that the buildings under construction today will face problems in 30 to 40 years time due to the low quality of concrete being used. Concrete is often tested for strength but not for durability. Why is nobody talking about this? It is already shocking that nothing was done when this was made public knowledge in 2016, and in the context of recent events it is inexcusable that it is still not being discussed as a major issue.

Malta is in desperate need of reform. The longer we ignore our weaknesses, the larger the cracks will grow. Third parties have been speaking on these issues for decades. In time, we who have been fighting the good fight will increasingly be proven right. By then, how many opportunities will we have lost? What will the hidden cost be? What will it take to change course? The consequences of irresponsibility are far-reaching and lead to damage such as the Council of Europe report against Malta. Why does it take a recent university graduate such as myself to point all of this out? I say to our politicians, ‘grow up’. Your gruesome selfishness is coming at the expense of others.

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