The Malta Independent 18 August 2019, Sunday

TMID Editorial: Infrastructure - Deaths on the road

Tuesday, 16 April 2019, 12:51 Last update: about 4 months ago

It has long been a hallowed Maltese tradition that a new road needs to be ‘christened’ with blood before it can really be used.

Whether true or not, the past weekend has been a really horrendous one with the death of a German lady on Saturday night and the death of mother and daughter on Sunday night.

These deaths, and also the many traffic accidents that pepper every day, make our roads lethal traps. Lax observance of the law, lack of proper enforcement, with more emphasis paid to parking infractions than to speeding, a population that is stressed out and trying to get to the destination when the roads are congested, an aggressiveness that has crept in these past years with people thinking nothing of highly selfish methods like switching lanes, hogging the car in front, harassing the car in front by means of lights and sounds, etc have become the order of the day at any time and any place.

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This time, however, in both tragic accidents, an added factor has been present. We will not say it was a determinant but we will not exclude it either. The two tragic accidents took place where road works are taking place. In truth, there is hardly any road where road works are not taking place but it is only because of Providence or chance we do not have more deaths or injuries.

In the Saturday accident it has been claimed that the German girl was riding pillion and she and her boyfriend-driver fell off the bike due to spalls as a result of roadworks. A truck driven by an Italian could not brake in time and hit and killed the girl. One budding life cruelly cut short. We do not know if this version of the accident is the right one and it is only the inquiry which can shed light on what happened.

In the Sunday accident there are or seem to be factors that may have contributed to the tragedy.  Again, it will be the inquiry which can shed light on how the accident happened, although the result will be too late for the dead persons. A family plunged into mourning after a Sunday outing.

Once again, the accident took place at the scene of road works. There was a sort of warning the previous day when a costly red Ferrari fell into a ditch.

Minister Ian Borg jumped the gun yesterday morning when he issued a statement in which he said that the road works were not to blame for the accident. There is a magisterial inquiry on the accident and the minister should have waited for the conclusion of this inquiry. Besides, as can be seen from the PA website, these road works at this particular point are not covered by a permit for Transport Malta, in its infinite wisdom, was in too much of a hurry to wait for a permit.

We are not saying the tragedy was caused by the road works but at the very least they played a contributory part.

We also note that this area of roadworks, as also the works near the cemetery and those near the Msida valley bridge, and the mostly finished curve on the Hamrun Bypass where the slipway to Hamrun branches out – are all in pitch darkness. Even experienced drivers, let alone Sunday ones, can be led astray when they are faced with a new road or a new bend that was not there before.

We are not taking this issue on to a partisan level but all this craze for simultaneous road works all over the island, and the happy-go-lucky way of doing things stress us all. We challenge anyone to say he or she are not stressed out by the road works.

The aim of improving the roads is a worthy one, but so too should the works themselves be – an improvement on what was there, rather than all this frenzy to do 700 roads on €700 million in seven years.

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