The Malta Independent 3 December 2021, Friday

Mayor knocks back electric car Valletta proposal, pushes for one-way ring road

Janet Fenech Sunday, 24 October 2021, 09:30 Last update: about 2 months ago

Valletta mayor Alfred Zammit does not consider the Valletta Cultural Agency’s (VCA) proposal to tackle Valletta’s persistent air-pollution problem as a viable short-term solution for residents of the capital city.

Speaking to The Malta Independent, he noted that since the VCA’s proposal last month several residents expressed their concern about investing more (of what is for most, unavailable) funds for a car, especially those who have recently purchased a new vehicle.

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In what was clearly a jibe at agency chairman Jason Micallef, Zammit said that the local council had several pilot projects and proposals being studied to tackle, in tandem, Valletta’s parking and air-pollution problem and that he has not been consulted by the VCA to discuss their proposals.

As from January 2022, in partnership with the University of Malta, the council will be undertaking an air quality test study across different parts of the city for the first time.

Following the success of a recent pilot project at the parking area near Hastings Garden – wherein parking space availability sensors where put in place using EU funds – the council is striving to extend this system initially proposed in 2017 city-wide.

Moreover, he noted that Transport Malta has been asked to study the possibility of turning Valletta’s ring road into a one-way system, allowing fishbone parking layouts to significantly increase the amount of parking spaces.

 

How has Valletta fared during the Covid-19 pandemic?

Zammit remarked that during the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, especially when establishments had to close down, Valletta turned into a “cemetery” and he believes it faced the “biggest blow” when compared to other localities.

He noted that Valletta’s retail sector was the worst hit, along with boutique hotels, and that although restaurants and bars had their due suffering emphasising the sharp decline in cruise liner tourists he is very pleased to see several new restaurants and bars were opening up in the city, with many offering live music entertainment in the evenings.

Although he is in favour of Valletta’s live music entertainment, Zammit remarked that he wants to ensure a different kind of entertainment than that found in Paceville.

Being a DJ himself, he noted that the council rarely gives out permits for DJs and pushes for more of a wine and dine atmosphere.

“I don’t want Valletta to become the next Paceville but I don’t want the city to sleep early either,” Zammit said.

In a bid to address the newfound hurdle in Valletta’s retail sector, Zammit said that he will continue to push for despite as yet finding no cooperation a one-day weekly late night shopping between 10am and 10pm as is common in other cities across the globe.

Asked about the Gozo fast ferry, Zammit said it was a good decision which has resulted in a “success” in attracting Gozitans to Valletta as a dining destination.

Speaking about other ways to make the city more attractive, Zammit noted the dire need for new methods to tackle the unceasing pigeon population.

Describing it as a “a complete catastrophe”, he said that the current efforts for contraceptives wasn’t yet yielding any results and noted how he was informed that being fed with human food disrupts the cycle the contraceptive is aiming to control.

Thus, he said that in his opinion, the main problem was the lack of education and awareness of the dangers of pigeon droppings and that therefore, the feeding of pigeons and littering needs much stronger enforcement. 

A capital city merits more government aid  

Zammit told this newsroom that local councils have too often been considered by government entities as merely garbage coordinators, but that in reality, residents expect their respective councils to address their concerns and enact change.

He noted that due to local council funds being allocated according to population density, Valletta receives fewer funds than several other localities and thus never manages to make due so as to carry out all of its project plans.

With the help of more funds, Zammit revealed other project plans that residents of Valletta and the public as a whole could relish in the near future. He noted that often, in order to complete some of its projects, the local council had to depend on the government, as with the first primary health clinic in Valletta that was opened last month.

Zammit expressed his consternation for Valletta’s ageing demographic and increasingly inaccessible price bracket. He mentioned how the government should consider refurbishing some of the city’s abandoned buildings and develop attract packages for youngsters.

Furthermore, he argued that the government should grant the council the ability to maintain the front doors of the abandoned buildings across the city.

 

 

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