The Malta Independent 7 December 2022, Wednesday
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Project duration

Alfred Sant MEP Thursday, 20 January 2022, 07:55 Last update: about 12 months ago

I used to believe that a most useful condition that could be placed on a construction project (big or small, public or private) when the necessary permits are being issued would be that the project is concluded by a certain date. This would be even more important if the project creates inconveniences for citizens who have nothing to do with it – as residents, drivers or just pedestrians crossing or passing up the road. Not to mention businesses.

But no, such a condition is apparently attached to no project permit. It must be like so for all over the island, one sees construction projects left unfinished and unattended for weeks, and then if work is continued, it gets done at a snail’s pace. Meanwhile, big public projects for which the announced date of completion has not been respected are abandoned for days on end with no one on site.

I do not understand how such situations are allowed to persist, with all they bring in their wake – encumbrances and jams, environmental pollution, the risk of accidents at night (since works in progress are also left in darkness)...



The major benefit brought about by Independence was to have been the possibility for the Maltese people to take decisions on the basis of what was in the best interest of their country, rather than the best interest of someone else – and this because they would be now in charge. That such an aspiration was not a pipe dream was confirmed by the subsequent facts. Never before in Maltese history did the economy achieve such growth as it did post-1964 and up to today.

Still, as of now, there have been two cases where quite clearly, matters went against this trend. The first one though – that of the Drydocks – is not altogether conclusive for the docks were inherited from the colonizing power which for almost a century and a half, had dedicated them solely to the repair of warships.

The same cannot be said for Air Malta. It was a “tool” devised post-Independence for the development of the island and it gave magnficent results. But we then failed to take decisions in its regard that would have reflected the best interests of the country.



Tonga, an island close to Malta’s size with less than a quarter of our population, has experienced a natural disaster against which it had no defence. A small island that is hit by a tsunami or an earthqauake faces total devastation since it does not have the spread of a hinterland in a greater land mass... as for Japan or Australia: the calamity affects all the country, not just a part of it.

So how can a small society prepare itself for a disaster of such magnitude? It is a question we too must ask ourselves in order to have some way by which to cope with it, while really hoping this would never be necessary. Still one can never tell.

Many years ago I wrote a short story (which few will have read – perhaps nobody) about a nuclear incident that happened close to these islands and which created massive nuclear pollution in the central Mediterranean. The solution was to evacuate all the population of Malta and Gozo. It has happened before that only in this way could small populations be rescued from disasters that engulfed them.


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