The Malta Independent 23 February 2020, Sunday

The better our roads get...

Alfred Sant Thursday, 8 November 2018, 07:37 Last update: about 2 years ago

The better our roads get, the less we shall enjoy them. So I was told by a friend who delights so much in controversy that he makes you believe nothing ever pleases him.

The roads we had were good roads some years back, he continued – despite the fact that little to no maintenance was carried out on them. Still, as people became increasingly attracted to the idea of buying a car, our roads got increasingly choked with traffic and became unfit for purpose. Today, they’re being widened. Traffic in circulation is being organised much more intelligently than used to be the case. Less time is being wasted in waiting for some traffic jam around the corner to be cleared.

But now what’s going to happen? People will continue to find the idea of buying more cars quite interesting. Soon, the new roads will become choc-a-bloc with cars. They will no longer seem so wide, as traffic jams become once more the rule of the day. Then, many years later, some future government will have to widen them again.

Indeed this friend of mine is a big spoilsport. Clearly he’s never heard about that excellent (Maltese?) proverb: Tomorrow never comes.   



I learnt much from the meeting held with the participation of my office in Gozo, at the Arka center at Għajnsielem, between five Gozitan NGOs which provide support to people who for one reason or another, are at risk of being totally excluded from society.

The largest two were the Arka foundation, which cares for people having physical disabilities, and that of Oasi, which is active among persons who suffer from some addiction. Smaller NGOs were also present: one which defends the interests of deaf people; another which focuses on mental health issues; as well as an organization which brings together members of the LGTB community.

Since they live in Gozo, the threat of a double isolation is quite big for the people represented by these societies. It is a carry forward of the problems generated by the island’s double insularity. It seems to me that a lot of worthwhile activity is being carried out by these organizations and they merit being given greater backing.

In this perspective, the idea of establishing an association that would bring together under one fold these Gozitian NGOs which are promoting inclusivity, could be quite helpful. It was highlighted in a declaration  that the NGOs present at Arka signed by the end of the meeting.


Henry IV of France  

It’s been a while since I read in one year, two books by the same author. That’s what I did with Jean d’Aillon’s “In the League’s grip”, an historical “adventure” novel situated in the final twenty years of the sixteenth century, mostly in Paris. The League does not refer to Salvini’s – it was an association cobbled together by Catholic nobles determined not to let a Protestant Prince, such as Henry King of Navarre, ascend the French throne.

Jean d’Aillon attempts to modernise the genre of the historical novel as practised by Alexandre Dumas by upping violence in the story line and injecting it with a faster plot. It seemed to me however, that as a result, more than once or twice, he lost control over the narrative which in certain episodes, makes the reader feel a bit lost. Even so, though the novel maintains a fast pace, the conclusion is less dramatic than one would have liked.

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