The Malta Independent 23 February 2020, Sunday

TMID Editorial: Early morning works - Another win for developers, another blow for our wellbeing

Monday, 3 December 2018, 10:35 Last update: about 2 years ago

They say that this country is run by contractors and developers and they are probably right. The announcement on Friday that construction vehicles will be allowed to operate on secondary roads as from 7.30am (they are currently only allowed to do that from 9.30am onwards) certainly reinforces that belief.

The Malta Developers Association (MDA) said Friday that discussions with Transport Malta had been ongoing for weeks, yet the news came for us mortal citizens as a complete surprise and, as usual, as a fait accompli. From the little we know so far it seems local councils were either not consulted or that they were given no say in the matter. They are to be officially informed of the decision this week, we were told.

We ask: Transport Malta is the authority in charge of transport and roads, but what does it know of people’s wellbeing? How can such a decision be taken by the transport authority alone? Was anyone else let in on this agreement? Was anyone asked for their feedback or was this move purely aimed at giving developers what they wanted?

A few days ago we wrote, in another editorial piece, about our own experience of having to work in an office block surrounded by three major construction sites. We have been putting up with the noise and vibration of heavy excavation for months. All we when we look out of our windows are diggers, bulldozers, cranes and an endless procession of trucks loaded to the brim with rubble and carrying it away.

The works start from as early as 7am and continue well after dark. We are lucky because after our shift is up we can go home to some peace. But the residents do not have the same luxury.

This situation will now be replicated in many of our secondary roads, which really translates into residential roads. From now on, contractors can start digging, excavating, lifting bricks and laying concrete from early morning, when most people are preparing their children for school or having a quiet breakfast before heading off to work. Traffic will no longer remain the first hellish experience of the day. The noise and rattle of construction will haunt us even before that.

The Malta Developers Association said these vehicles will be allowed to operate on secondary roads before 9.30am provided that they do not completely block the roads – as if access to these roads is all that matters to us. What about noise, vibration and dust? Do these not also count?

MDA chief Sandro Chetcuti justified the move by saying that “a lot of time was being wasted.”

One could say that these comments only go to show that many contractors and developers are only interested in maximising profits, even if this comes at the expense of people’s wellbeing. In a country where there are no clear laws on noise pollution and virtually no enforcement and monitoring of construction sites, we are now giving contractors permission to start being a nuisance even earlier in the day. The MDA chief has admitted on numerous occasions that this is a good time for the industry with the current construction boom. But it seems that the current climate, which many would agree favours the construction industry, is still not good enough for developers.

“MDA is very grateful that the chairman of Transport Malta together with his team took note of the difficulties caused to these contractors and we are very satisfied with the outcome and agreement reached,” Chetcuti was quoted as saying.

If only the authorities would give equal importance to the plea of normal citizens who only wish for a couple of hours of peace and quiet before all hell breaks loose.

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