The Malta Independent 30 September 2022, Friday
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TMID Editorial: Direct orders for infrastructure and the cars on our roads

Tuesday, 20 September 2022, 10:04 Last update: about 8 days ago

 “Demonising direct orders isn’t the answer. If it’s justified within the context of the situation – so it might win time and avoid delays – then I’ll sign it off ”, the newly appointed Infrastructure Malta CEO, Ivan Falzon, told The Malta Independent on Sunday during an interview.

“But I’ll also support a revamp in effective procurement procedures, and I think that this has to be a priority for the government”, he added.

The problem is that we have seen far too many direct orders issued by this agency. During the interview, he said that direct orders make up around 20% of Infrastructure Malta’s procurement outlay. That is a lot of funds spent on direct orders. Far too much.

It can be argued that when it comes to extremely specialised work, a direct order is necessary. But one can also argue that planning ahead well would mean that the need for going through the normal tendering process would not result in delays, and would mean less direct orders.

As for the revamp in effective public procurement, if the government is to go down that road it should be to introduce far stricter rules for the use of direct orders, thus resulting in less contracts being awarded in such a way.

During the interview, Falzon was also asked about alternative transport infrastructure, on which he made an interesting point.

“Rather than doing a cycle lane with a start to finish in every road, we need to create routes from point A to point B. We can say, for instance, that in the next three years our plan is to create a cycle route between Mosta and Valletta as that’s the most travelled route, with ancillary facilities along the way”, he said.

These routes would be characterised by segregated or safe lanes, and would not necessarily be running through major arterial roads.

Given the size constraints of certain roads in Malta, this might not be a bad idea. What is for sure is that we need to have fewer cars on our roads, and if cycling is more safe, then perhaps more people would be inclined to take up this mode of transport.

But cycling lanes aren’t the only solution to cars on the road. We need to seriously think about how to curb the use of private cars in our everyday lives.

Public transport becoming free for all is a step worth taking but, realistically speaking, will it incentivise many who go to work every day, to use public transport over their car? One hopes that it will. If it doesn’t, we need to figure out other ways to make it more attractive.

 

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