The Malta Independent 7 May 2021, Friday

Watch: Activists continue to block Dingli road works

Tuesday, 23 March 2021, 15:15 Last update: about 2 months ago

Moviment Graffitti activists, some farmers and residents have continued to protest the construction of a road in Dingli, blocking the path of the prospective road, sitting in the way of contractors in a bid to stop the works from taking place.

This resulted in a stand off between the activists and contractors employed by Infrastructure Malta, with a few tense moments to boot.

At one point, a contractor elected to use a chainsaw to cut part of a tree which an activist was sitting on, while there was also some pushing and shoving after two activists blocked an industrial sized woodchipper and another sat on what was left of a tree which had been chopped up earlier in the day.

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Activists and residents continue to insist that Infrastructure Malta do not have any permits to carry out the development - which will cut through agriculture land - although the project manager leading the project tried to convince the police otherwise by showing them letters from the ERA and the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage - letters which he refused to show to activists on site.

Tthe contractors succeeded in destroying part of a wall which connects to one of the roads, but activists put a stop to this to the point that the contractors' heavy machinery could not enter the site.  Workers were constrained to taking to some of the trees - which included lemon trees with nearly ripe fruit - with a chainsaw and dragging the trees to the exit of the site.

As morning turned to afternoon, contractors returned in an effort to continue the works but to no avail, as the protestors continued to block any form of progress from taking place. 

It was only at 4pm that the contractors seemed to give up on their luck. The used large concrete blocks to close off the site before eventually beating their retreat.

The activists, meanwhile, have declared that they will continue to camp on the site and make sure that the works do not continue.  They demanded that Infrastructure Malta CEO Frederick Azzopardi and Transport Minister Ian Borg - who during the day were ironically at a press conference lauding how many trees the roads agency had planted in the past 18 months - go to the site to see the alleged illegalities for themselves.

Infrastructure Malta on Monday said it was going ahead with works to build a road in an outside development zone in Dingli, much to the chagrin of residents, farmers and activists, who descended once more on the street to try and stop the works. With the protests beginning on Monday, they continued on Tuesday as some activists even spent the night on site.

The works had recommenced again after the Environment and Planning Tribunal turned down an appeal against the uprooting of three trees - including a carob tree which is hundreds of years old - on the basis that the appellants did not have a juridical interest in making such an appeal.

The activists argue that Infrastructure Malta is destroying the environment in Dingli, in an effort to "pass a road for which they have no permit and which leads to nowhere.

Infrastructure Malta on Monday had said: "The Planning Authority confirmed to the Tribunal that, in line with applicable regulations, there was no obligation for Infrastructure Malta to notify the Authority about its works in Dingli since the new street between Dahla tas-Sienja Street, San Gwann Bosco Street and Il-Museum Alley is schemed as per the Local Plan." The agency claimed that residents in Il-MUSEUM Alley and other nearby areas in Dingli "have long been calling for the formation of this schemed street to improve connectivity and to create a safer access to numerous residences, some of which are currently only accessible through a narrow lane that does not permit firefighting and other emergency vehicles to reach their homes." 

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