The Malta Independent 14 July 2024, Sunday
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Moviment Graffitti calls for dialogue, official plans to be shown for Dingli roadworks

Albert Galea Thursday, 25 March 2021, 19:17 Last update: about 4 years ago

Moviment Graffitti have called for Infrastructure Malta CEO Frederick Azzopardi and Transport Minister Ian Borg to go to a site in Dingli where the roads agency is attempting to construct a road through agricultural land and to show them the official plans for the works.

In a press conference on the fourth day of a stand-off between activists and road contractors, the NGO lamented that the project was a “road to nowhere” which the vast majority of residents did not want.

Moviment Graffitti’s Andre Callus explained that Infrastructure Malta do not have the planning permits to build such a road.  He said that before anything else, they want to see the detailed plans which are being used to build the road, and that till then, works should come to a halt.

He said that Infrastructure Malta are claiming that they do not need a permit because the road is scheduled as per the 2006 local plan for the area. 

Lamenting first that the fact that the road was planned 15 years ago is already a dubious justification for the road, Callus added that outlines on the geoserver indicate that – contrary to what is in the local plan, where the road is on the border of the ODZ – the road will encroach into ODZ land, which would mean that a permit is required.

He called on Infrastructure Malta to go to the site and to discuss the matter: to show them the plans, and to agree on the expropriation of the land with the farmers.

“Ian Borg said that the residents want a road: this is a lie – the vast majority do not want it.  We are involved because the residents and farmers turned to us.  This is a road to nowhere”, he said.

“Infrastructure Malta need to change their arrogant approach.  If we continue to find this attitude, then we have no option but to continue with this direct action, and to strengthen it.  But our call right now is for dialogue – till that though, the works must stop”, he concluded.

Karen Tanti, a Moviment Graffitti activist and a Dingli resident, said that when she first heard of the works, she had found them "strange".  When going to see where the works were going to be, much to her surprise, she and others found a bulldozer bearing down on the road.

The works were succesfully stopped back then and, she said, Infrastructure Malta have failed to come up with a valid reason for the since.

She said that while it is positive that the considerations of residents have been taken into account, there are still no official plans and no permits for the road to be built.

"We are asking Frederick Azzopardi and Ian Borg to show us what plans there are as per the local plan, and what exactly will happen to the agricultural land here", Tanti told a socially distanced crowd.

"Works must stop till we have satisfactory plans in hand", she concluded.

Two residents from the streets surrounding this project who addressed the press conference both said that they feared that there were ulterior motives to these works, motives such as the development of new apartment blocks right next to the road.

“That’s our fear – that our access to clean air ends, that big blocks are built to the point that you can’t see anything.  Is this the quality of life we want?”, one resident said.

Gerald Lapira, a farmer who owns one of the fields which will be affected by the works, said that he had heard absolutely nothing about compensation for the land which he will lose, and that he was also present to protect rural Dingli.

“We aren’t here for fun. We are here because we are worried. Our natural environment is not being preserved.  The destruction of the environment should not be turned into a political ball – everyone should be against it”, Lapira said before adding that people are simply fed up.

“Development through destruction is not progress, it’s devastation”, he said.

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