The Malta Independent 26 November 2022, Saturday
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TMIS Editorial: Random thoughts at the end of summer

Sunday, 25 September 2022, 11:00 Last update: about 2 months ago

Summer has just passed and, as we prepare ourselves for the cooler weather, the reopening of schools and the presentation of the budget for 2023, we can look back at the last few months to take stock of the situation.

We can’t say we’re all returning to work full days, because only government workers have the luxury of working half-days in summer; no party is willing to do away with this anachronism for fear of losing votes.

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Are we better today than how we were in June?

On the positive side, the Covid-19 pandemic seems on the wane, although we’ve learnt to expect some yo-yoing of numbers, and they could return to climbing up, quite quickly, as they have done previously. At the start of summer, we were still having between 400 and 600 cases a day, but these have dwindled to below 50 for a month or so.

Whether it’s because fewer people are taking tests in clinics and hospitals is something that we do not know, but the overall sensation is that matters have greatly improved. We still believe that caution should continue to be exercised.

We had a couple of protests on Comino. A few activists created a strong awareness on how public beaches have been taken over. But things have not changed much. Not only on Comino. Just go to any popular public beach to see deckchairs and umbrellas lined up as early as 7am, waiting for customers. Then we’re told that, supposedly, no beach furniture should occupy public space until it is requested by beach-goers. But we all know that this does not happen.

We’ve learnt that the Prime Minister has little, if any, trust in his deputy, and prefers to manage Malta by remote control when he is away from the country.

We’ve also had the longest holiday for Parliament, at least in this century, as nearly three months will have passed when the House of Representatives reconvenes on 3 October to resume its business. A long time, indeed. Everybody needs a break, including politicians, but they should be setting a good example.

During summer, we had ministers who were highly active, some who were moderately active, and others who were mostly absent. The latter may have been working behind the scenes, and we will probably get to know more of what they have been doing in the coming weeks.

To be fair, ministers who invited the media for their events were willing to reply to our questions although, of course, whether they did give an answer that was required is up for public judgment. Only the Prime Minister shunned the Maltese media like the plague in the last months. He has visited factories and offices, but we were only told about the events after they happened. He has given comments and interviews, but only to the Labour Party’s media.

The construction industry may have had a slowdown in tourist areas where no demolition or excavation work is allowed (a ban that expires on 30 September), but it is still certainly in full swing in most other parts of the island. The building frenzy continues, unabated, as we go higher and wider. Noise and other forms of pollution abound.

We returned to having village feasts. Many had missed them in Covid days, but many others had not. The loud bangs from fireworks are still not welcome, and the closing down of main thoroughfares were an extra obstacle to the traffic flow.

Speaking of traffic, the widening of roads and building of new ones has helped until the next roundabout or bottleneck arrives. And, in some cases, not even the widening of roads has helped to reduce traffic time. The frustration grows as it still takes more time than it should to go from one destination to the other.

We’re not optimistic that the introduction of free public transport will encourage more drivers to leave their vehicles at home to take the bus. We have become too used to using our own cars, in spite of the traffic jams and parking problems.

Over summer we have also seen controversy over legal notices which allow music to be played outside establishments in a number of Valletta streets until 1am, as against the previous 11pm curfew. The capital city is fast becoming another Paceville, and the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association is worried about the many complaints received about the noise levels. But government does not want to listen.

Inflation is still hitting hard. We’ve never seen anything like it. Prices continue to shoot up, whether it’s for products or services. Many attribute this to the war in Ukraine, but it had started weeks before. In the meantime, the war rages on.

Court cases, which have attracted more attention that others, have continued but the big fish are still free.

We ask again: Are we better than we were in June?

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