The Malta Independent 15 October 2021, Friday

Infrastructure Malta forges ahead with Swieqi road works despite local council’s objection

Janet Fenech Thursday, 16 September 2021, 10:34 Last update: about 29 days ago

Infrastructure Malta has been called out by Swieqi mayor Noel Muscat to have proceeded with a road work proposal for St Andrew's Road that the local council had opposed.

“It is sheer madness from many aspects, and it hits strongly in the face all that the local council has been fighting for over many months,” stated Muscat.

Muscat told The Malta Independent that the Swieqi local council and Infrastructure Malta had previously agreed on a different proposal for this principal TEN-T road corridor which saw a roundabout on St Andrew's road opposite Il-Qasam road and the Luxol football grounds.

He said IM had even applied for a PA permit for this project plan (doc 378a) but without informing the local council had decided to go with the plan that the local council had opposed.

Muscat noted how there were on-going discussions for alternative safer and more efficient junctions for the busy stretch which links to and from the Coast Road.

In turning Il-Qasam road and l-Ibrag road exits into a one way, directing all traffic North towards Madliena, IM decided to turn this road into a fast double-carriageway road, joining the Regional Road to the Coast Road.

The local council had repeatedly voiced their concern that these road closures would increase the already problematic traffic-prone roundabout below Perkursur road.

Muscat told this newsroom how this would result in drivers now having to “hedge their bets” to join the main road as IM are only leaving the Il-Qasam road traffic light junction near the zebra crossing, from the four present between L-Ibrag road and the entry to Pembroke.

The mayor added that he cannot understand why IM chose to place concrete bollards and not plastic poles as on other road work sites since just two weeks ago, other bollards placed nearby had resulted in flooding the road as rain water was blocked to one lane.

He noted how “disappointed” he was that he was only informed about IM’s decision one day prior to forging ahead with their plan which saw concrete bollards being placed along the road road.

Muscat told this newsroom that he had even called the Prime Minister to intervene but to no avail as “it is evident that our requests are being ignored,” said the mayor.

“It is clear that IM haven’t got interests of the Swieqi residents as a priority,” continued Muscat.

“This is untenable now and will certainly create chaos and havoc when the nearby schools open. The Council keeps incessantly requesting Infrastructure Malta to take heed of our concerns and amend their plans to meet our proposals, but we are being systematically ignored! Infrastructure Malta's attitude towards the well-being of our residents is deplorable,” Muscat stated.

Muscat concluded that in “ignoring the interests of Swieqi residents”, Infrastructure Malta is simply “out to achieve its own aim” and that therefore, the council is “prepared to discuss the matter further with the authorities, and is determined to oppose with all its strength the current proposal unless revised favourably.”

Infrastructure Malta’s response

The “allegations that the Swieqi local council is not being consulted and informed about the on-going works are untrue,” a spokesperson for Infrastructure Malta told The Malta Independent.

Il-Qasam Road is to be turned into a one-way since IM decided it was not wide enough to safely accommodate bi-directional traffic flows, said the spokesperson.

This road is “currently obstructed by old buildings which have not yet been rebuilt to the area’s schemed alignments established by the PA’s local plans. Thus, it would be unsafe to keep this road open in both directions,” stated the spokesperson.

After studying some of the Swieqi Local Council proposals for Sant’ Andrija Road, some were found to be “unsustainable” due to increasing safety risks, retaining existing accident blind spots, and causing increased travel times along this critical arterial road, the spokesperson said.

In directing traffic to the recently completed roundabout below Perkursur road, Sant’ Andrija Road users are able to follow a “safer route” by joining the southbound lanes or alternatively using other southbound exits from Swieqi to San Gwann and St Julian’s, the spokesperson added.

In an attempt to remove the current one-lane bottleneck on Sant’ Andrija Road in the northbound direction towards Bahar ic-Caghaq, the on-going works will include the rebuilding of part of the northbound carriageway to have four lanes of uniform width, two in each direction as opposed to the current where two lanes merge into one then back to two lanes.

IM will be introducing a new footpath alongside the southbound which will be extended further south towards Pembroke in the second phase of the project.

Photo top: Newsbook

  • don't miss