The Malta Independent 19 June 2021, Saturday

The ferry wars

Rachel Borg Saturday, 5 June 2021, 06:55 Last update: about 14 days ago

No sooner had the first trips of the new fast ferry service left the quay, than a verbal spat was launched to go with it.  Setting the tone for immediate hostility and rivalry between the two operators, public opinion was as usual assaulted and set upon.

One cannot express a general opinion on a Facebook post without being bullied.  Since the original post was about the passenger experience of the two fast ferries and their value for money, one woman simply said she chooses to go with one company because she finds them reliable. 

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The battle commenced.  A second person posted with a counter statement.  But that was not the real issue.  The shameful thing was that directors of one company rather than posting a customer relations type of reply, personally attacked the second woman and the other company.

It went on to 12 replies. One comment leading to 12 replies including personal attacks.

The right to free speech in Malta is lost amongst the great egos and sense of entitlement that people have come to own.  Not only.  Violence and bullying lies beneath.  People are so quick to raise their voice against any perceived negative opinion.  Pride has become the sole driver of opinion and judgement comes easily to anyone who simply do not tolerate freedom of speech or any rights at all.

The public must endure.  They must put up with the nation’s greed and its overarching right to do what it wants.  We can no longer live in peace.  Tables and chairs, caravans, covering public land, right beneath residential areas creating noise, obstructing views and degrading the environment.  Filth and rubbish left behind and unstoppable encroachment onto private lives, right to enjoy your property and wrongful protection from the law that should deal with the very issues around them.

Did the set-up of the fast ferries need to create animosity?  Can’t they work together and look for the benefit of the passengers?  How soon before a full scale war begins although I have to say that the attack was from one party only and the other company did not take part.  Hopefully it will stay like this and an apology can be made both to the other company and to the woman who expressed her personal preference.

Quarrels are the dish of the day in Malta.  The other two videos that went viral on social media were of the 4 women brawling in Marsa and the physical attack on the delivery driver by some women, in Msida.  We simply cannot go on like this anymore.  Manners and respect do not exist in this world of 40,000. 

Children screaming in swimming pools of nearby hotels or condominiums - no respect for neighbours at whatever hour.  Workmen around a building site leaving debris and rubbish flying in the wind across the street into people’s path - part of the job. 

Someone swearing and using bad language because that is what they do will double their words if they even get a gasp from you.

Agricultural fields are taken for some fancy flyover or new supermarket.  A children’s park is to be converted to a block of offices and commercial outlets.  Views that have defined history and culture for centuries, obscured by blank party walls.  Blocks of flats jutting out onto the street like fat bellies become normal because permits are given on the basis that the community has no rights anymore.  All of this serves to empower greed, pride and selfishness and provokes resentment, rivalry and even violence.

It has caused psychological and mental suffering on a level that may be found in post- traumatic stress disorder.  People are divided into the bullies and the victims.  The victims are treated like they have no rights whatsoever and this has now eroded their confidence and belief in justice and a voice of their own.

Any respite that people may seek, in open spaces amongst nature or simply a familiar lifestyle of walking down to the bay for a swim in Summer are threatened by the big organisations that use their power and money to enforce their own plans to enrich themselves.  Balluta bay will belong to those who run another ferry operation, completely ignoring the community’s right to enjoyment of the bay as they had done once the water became clean again.  Protests and signatures fall on deaf ears.

Immigrants who walk around us in a kind of no man’s land, some with their underpants in our face as they waddle along amongst diners because our streets are now restaurants, themselves living a kind of low-key violence and racism, and perhaps even looking down on us as we jeopardise prosperity and are cornered into less and less space in our resorts.  Because rising rents has caused a demographic imbalance and what were once communities have now become soul-less zones, rather than villages or pretty towns with their own identity.

We also have a right to not be offended by others who distance themselves from moral responsibilities to society.  There should be boundaries or else anarchy rules and what was once a gem of country to live in has become a gambling house.

There is mention that the X300 bus that operated for students, mainly, but not only, that left from Cirkewwa and went to University and Mater Dei will be discontinued.  Creating victims is the speciality of this government.  A soft dictatorship than decides where our money will go and how our taxes are spent, without account.  Much of the same way that they gave away our hospitals. 

Perhaps they are conducting a test to see how far people can be controlled and how far an unpopular decision can be repackaged to look like a gift.  They know that the tunnel to Gozo is a project for the developers and business cronies.  They know that it is a huge cost to build it, dangerous and generally it is not wanted.  But if the construction industry wants it, so they must find a way to distract the people with fast ferries and make them feel inconvenienced by the commute with Gozo Channel.  Taking away the bus is the first step. They can try to argue that the bus company decides on its service but we know that the Gozitan students had fought long and hard for this service and it forms part of the commitment to improve the lives of the students.  Therefore, it is a social service and should be protected by government, even with subsidy if necessary.  Anyway, the fast ferries should have been an addition and not a loss.

Only when there is no purpose in owning and no pleasure left to enjoy, perhaps we will realize that we cannot thrive on exploitation.  Then that little beach house will come to have so much more value than the empty concrete blocks and neighbours will become friends and citizens again, chatting once more on a balmy summer evening.

 

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