The Malta Independent 21 October 2021, Thursday

TMID Editorial: Roads and traffic – We’re fed up, Ian

Tuesday, 28 September 2021, 08:14 Last update: about 23 days ago

Someone said, half-jokingly, that it took much less time for the Red Arrows to return to their base in England than for those who went to watch their display to go back home after the show from the Qawra and Bugibba area.

Photos published on the social media showed a traffic jam that took very long to ease. And, maybe, it was not a half-joke; it was the truth.

But this is something that is not only happening when there is a special occasion, such as the Malta International Air Show of the past weekend.

It is happening every day.

Is there anyone out there who, at any time of day on any day during the week, is able to go from Point A to Point B without encountering a road that is dug up? Is there anyone out there who can reach a destination without a detour? Is there anyone out there who is not frustrated in having to spend many more minutes on the road and in traffic than necessary?

The minister responsible, Ian Borg, and Infrastructure Malta will answer that what is being done is part of a multi-million project that is to overhaul the road network as well as rebuild roads and junctions that will ease the traffic flow. They will say that the roads system had been neglected by the previous administration and that so much is needed – and so much more still needs to be done – for the situation to be brought up to scratch.

We have tried to live with this for months, if not years, but in the more recent times it is clear that the activity on the roads has multiplied. Maybe it’s because things were taken easy and now those responsible are trying to make up. Or maybe it’s because an election is approaching, and something that was promised needs to be fulfilled. Or maybe Infrastructure Malta took on more than it could handle.

Whatever the case, it is clear that there is lack of planning. Drivers have complained that they have been rerouted because of Project A, only to find out that the diversion is leading to another closed road because Project B is taking place. What should be a 15-minute drive takes them an hour, maybe more.

And, while there are projects that are fast-moving, others are taking much longer to complete, even the more simple ones. Take the rehabilitation of the four major tunnels at St Julian’s, Tal-Qroqq, Santa Venera and Kirkop. This was supposed to have been finished by June, but now we’re at the end of September, and drivers are at times still finding one or more of these tunnels closed or reduced to one lane as the work continues.

Then there is the issue of safety too. For example, the road leading to Mgarr from Mosta was in a shambles as work was being carried out, with drivers having to manoeuvre in tight spaces on an uneven stretch. It was a nightmare to drive, especially in the dark.

Much better planning is needed because people do not stop living and working while road projects are taking place. They still need to get to their destinations.

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