The Malta Independent 16 May 2022, Monday

Swieqi road works: PA must decide whether ‘experts’ or Swieqi mayor are in the right – Ian Borg

Janet Fenech Thursday, 30 September 2021, 10:42 Last update: about 9 months ago

Following road work controversies between the Swieqi local council and Infrastructure Malta regarding the exits for St. Andrew’s road, Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects said the decision for the next phase of the project will be left in the hands of the Planning Authority.

“The Planning Authority needs to judge whether the experts or the Mayor are in the right,” Borg told The Malta Independent.

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“Consultation doesn’t mean that those who need to take decisions don’t take them,” Borg told this newsroom.

“We consult and listen to each other’s ideas, but then those who must decide need to decide,” he added.

Swieqi Mayor Noel Muscat has recently called out IM for speeding ahead despite the council’s “outright” objection to a number of road safety and access issues for its current plan for St. Andrew’s road and respective junctions.

In continuing to forge ahead, despite the council’s public outcry for further discussion, Muscat asked IM not to apply for a PA permit for its proposed hairpin junction on Qasam road as part of the next phase of the project which will see this main town road crossing turned into a one way, retaining only its left exit onto St. Andrew’s road. 

Borg said that seeing as St. Andrew’s road is an arterial distributing road, its functioning is part of the government’s responsibility.

He added that though he understands that the Swieqi resident’s interests need to be taken into account, IM must take into account the national interests of all the other residents on the island.

On his part, IM CEO Fredrick Azzopardi said that Infrastructure Malta’s main aim for its road projects is to ensure safety as well as accessibility.

He said that in removing the right exits of Qasam and Ibragg road onto St. Andrew’s road, IM will be resolving the risk of collision that used to take place due to these crossings.  

The Swieqi Mayor had pointed out that seeing as the removal of these right crossings will allow for an increased driving speed, the “already problematic” newly constructed roundabout below Perkursur road at the top of St. Andrew’s road will worsen the traffic situation on this main road.

Muscat had further pointed out that in the removal of the traffic lights on Ibragg road, an increased accident risk would ensue as drivers will have to “hedge their bets” to join St. Andrew’s main road.

In reply to these concerns, Azzopardi said that the removal of these right exit crossings and traffic lights will reduce the collision risks had previously taken place on St. Andrew’s road as drivers crossed from the left of to the right of this main road.

He added that as a result of directing traffic from Qasam and Ibrag road up towards the recently constructed roundabout on Perkursur road the resulting increased road speed ability on these roads will enable the reduction of traffic.

Azzopardi noted how besides having their own road work experts, IM consult the emergency department on such matters to ensure that what is being done is being done in a safe manner.

In his concluding remark, he noted that he is aware of how an increased driving speed could result in other traffic accidents, thus, he called upon the public not to abuse the increased speed on Maltese roads as part of their on-going efforts to reduce traffic across the island.

“It is true that unfortunately there will be people who abuse of the increased ability for faster driving in the widening of roads, so my appeal is the importance for everyone to observe the traffic regulations,” he said.

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