The Malta Independent 17 October 2019, Thursday

Zebbug, Hamrun, Zabbar councils win grant for permanent alternative transport measures

Albert Galea Monday, 16 September 2019, 11:34 Last update: about 1 month ago

The local councils of Zebbug, Hamrun, and Zabbar have all won a grant of between €30,000 and €50,000 from Transport Malta for the implementation of permanent measures to promote alternative methods of transport.

Announcing the news at the launch for European Mobility Week, which Malta will be taking part in, Transport Minister Ian Borg said that he hoped to see more councils adopt measures such as these in the future.

The Zabbar local council will be using the grant to invest in a system which turns the roads near the locality's schools into pedestrian zones automatically, hence eliminating the need to rely on police officers or community officers to close the road.

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The Zebbug local council meanwhile will be investing in a pedal-assisted tricycle which will be used to, amongst other things, collect waste in the village's narrow roads and for other services within the locality's urban conservation area.  The Hamrun local council will then be using the grant to pedestrianise the Little Sister of the Poor street so to create a better environment.

Other localities also applied for funding for temporary initiatives, with Gharb, Ghajnsielem, Mqabba, Hamrun, and Fgura all receiving grants in this regard. Mqabba's Socjeta Muzikali Madonna Tal-Gilju also received a grant.  Temporary initiatives which fall under this cap include the organisation of car free days and the promotion of car pooling.

Borg said that the government was trying, as much as possible, to implement a wide transport strategy with measures promoting all alternative means of transport, but noted that one cannot simply focus on just one measure or means of transport and ignore the rest.

He noted that he is sometimes criticised for his work, something which he has no qualms with, and added that initiatives for transport are best implemented together, but said that one cannot expect the population to stop using their cars from one day to the next

"The best choice is to incentivise each mode of transport so that the country can move forward in the mobility sector", Borg said.

The Parliamentary Secretary responsible  for local councils Silvio Parnis meanwhile said that councils must adopt a new mentality in favour of the environment, and used the recent focus put on the separation of waste as an example.

He said that a number of initiatives where councils implemented transport systems to help residents, especially the elderly, move around the locality has been seen, and he augured for more such initiatives.

He said that this is the type of change that local councils should be aiming to make, so to truly make people feel like the council is not only a local government but also a second home.

European Mobility Week, which was launched during this press conference in Zabbar, is an annual, Europe-wide campaign which focuses on sustainable urban mobility. It will run between 16 and 22 September, with over 2,700 towns and cities registered to take part, and over 2,100 mobility actions, which can also be put forward by NGOs, businesses, and schools, have been registered.

Photos by Alenka Falzon
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