The Malta Independent 11 August 2022, Thursday

TMID Editorial: Two entities – Disagreement on Valletta

Thursday, 28 October 2021, 09:01 Last update: about 11 months ago

Two prominent Labour personalities seem to be on the warpath on matters related to Valletta.

Alfred Zammit, the first Labour mayor of the capital city, and Jason Micallef, who heads the Valletta Cultural Agency, are not on the same page with regard to how to tackle problems related to transport and pollution.

The VCA, whose head has a past as a TV personality and is always ready to make his thoughts public, has suggested that, by 2030, only electric vehicles should be allowed into Valletta. The agency, after serving to promote the city’s social, economic and cultural regeneration in the run-up to Valletta being the capital city of culture in Europe in 2018, is now “working on a long-term vision for a cleaner and greener city which offers a better quality of life for the communities and for the visitors”.

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Among other things, it wants all vehicles providing services in Valletta, including waste collection, to be electrically powered and of one specific size, respecting the narrow streets. This must be done by 2023, the agency said, and should be followed by another gigantic step – that all vehicles entering Valletta, including those belonging to residents, must be electric as from 2030.

It is a bold suggestion, and while the 2023 deadline could, if a real effort is made, be reachable, it is certainly more problematic for the second one to be achieved.

Mayor Alfred Zammit who, like Micallef, is well-known also for his TV shows on the Labour media, made it clear that it is not something that he agrees with. This is mostly because of what the residents have told him since the VCA launched its idea.

For example, there are Valletta residents who have just bought a new car, will be paying for it for the next few years and will not look forward to have to go through the process – and expenses – just because the VCA wants all vehicles to be electric in nine years’ time.

There are other ways to make Valletta less polluted, such as having a one-way ring road which will then also increase parking spaces, Zammit told The Malta Independent on Sunday. Together with the University of Malta, the local council will be carrying out an exercise on air quality in different parts of the city too.

Our guess, in all this, is that the local council and the agency are set for a head-on clash on this matter. The agency wants to justify its existence and one wonders, given the overlapping there seems to be with the council’s functions, whether it should have continued to exist after the end of the Valletta 18 responsibilities.

Having said this, the two entities need to work together in the best interests of the capital city. While every effort should be made to make Valletta more welcoming, one must also remember that the residents have needs too, and they cannot be put aside.

Let’s just hope, for Valletta’s sake, that it will not lose out in this clash of personalities.

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