The Malta Independent 2 June 2020, Tuesday

Il-Majjistral Park – literally, gone with the wind

Sunday, 8 March 2020, 09:15 Last update: about 4 months ago

A planned visit to our only national park is something that one looks with eagerness. Its website provides an enticing description of what one can expect in what would seem a natural heaven. 

But, in line with our national way of doing things, this place has been left neglected and is in a pitiful state. The sight is reminiscent of a war-torn town. One can hardly walk on what remains of the only way that takes you up to the Exhibition/Visitors’ Hall, which mind you, was closed on a Saturday afternoon. The small garden around this hall was meant to exhibit indigenous plants; well that was the plan in the beginning, but not anymore. The area is now totally neglected and visitors are welcomed with an array of weeds. The only persons that are still interested in this place are the off-roaders, who use this place to practise their hobby, in blatant contravention of a sign at the so-called “entrance point”.

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The amusing part of all this is the plaque that was unveiled on its opening in April 2014, which states that this Park is intended to provide awareness on our environment in its natural beauty and shall be maintained and preserved for future generations. Well, let’s not be overly pretentious – the Management Board should be competent to maintain and preserve it, at least, for the present generation! The Park is managed by the Heritage Parks Federation consisting of three NGOs involved in coastal management, cultural restoration and environmental protection. The management is overseen by a supervisory board, composed of representatives from the NGOs, three from the public sector, the Mellieħa Local Council and an independent chairperson nominated by the Minister for the Environment. 

According to the website, the Management Board is currently made up of the following members: Chairperson: Saviour Vella, Members: Darrin Stevens, Marisa Ciappara, John Buttigieg, Jean Paul Attard, Dr Rudolf Ragonesi, Jacques Azzopardi and Ghislaine Calleja. This is surely not a case of the Board not having enough members to look into the management of the park, though collective competence is evidently very lacking! And after the pompous opening, this should not have happened after a mere six years.

One last observation – Is it the case that the taxpayer is forking out the salaries for a 24x7 watchman duties at this place?

And, what about the converted barracks’ hall at the entrance? Has someone been given authority to convert it into a holiday place? To whom does it belong and what and with whom were agreements made for the transfer and use of this public property?   

It may be a good idea if the incumbent Environment Minister takes a quick break from his office routine and pays a visit to this disgraceful heritage site and personally experience the pitiful state it is in.

When visiting, it is advisable to use a 4X4 off-roader and a pair of good trekking boots!

 

Frances Camilleri

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