The Malta Independent 15 April 2024, Monday
View E-Paper

Sliema residents flock to protest, angry over waste, filth and rats

Kyle Patrick Camilleri Tuesday, 29 August 2023, 21:46 Last update: about 9 months ago

People flocked to a protest on the worsening state of Sliema on Tuesday evening, organised by the Sliema Residents Association and supported by the eNGO Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar (FAA). Multiple politicians were in attendance.

The protest was organised for residents to voice their anger about the management of their locality and on the present situation.

Topics of note that were brought up during this protest were the filth in the locality and other issues affecting the look of Sliema itself, such as: inadequate waste collection/management, lack of resources and infrastructure with a rapidly growing population, rats, frequently seen pigeon droppings and dog excrement left on pavements, as well as e-scooters often blocking pavements and impeding the paths of strollers and wheelchair users.

ADVERTISEMENT

Resident Charles Falzon, resident Matthew Aquilina, and Flimkien Ghal Ambjent Ahjar Coordinator Astrid Vella (who are all on the Sliema Residents Association committee) spoke. During their respective speeches, the speakers reiterated that they met to show their anger at the situation that has developed and that they intend on holding future protests should little be done following this.

"It has become unbearable", opened Falzon. He said that rubbish can be seen wherever one goes within the locality before describing the common disturbances residents endure on a daily basis; this pertained to loud music coming from restaurants and tourists in the area during late hours.

Moreover, going round the locality was said to have become a nightmare for physically impaired residents. It was said that e-scooters, pigeon droppings and dog excrement, and bags of rubbish often litter pavements fully; to this point, some wheelchair users were spotted carrying signs advocating for "friendly pavements".

Some people in the crowd held up signs calling Sliema a "garbage town". Others went along with this theme and called to "Keep Sliema Clean" or simply held that "Sliema Stinks" to vent on the locality's exacerbated quality of life for locals. Other signs read "SLIEMA ABANDONED" while some advocated to ban scooters from pavements altogether.

On this point, Astrid Vella stated that they are against scooter abuse, not scooters. In frustration, the crowd collectively chanted for "no more scooters". More chants going "no more hotels" soon followed as Vella began speaking on the near dozen pending hotel applications around the locality.

Aquilina, focused on the waste management issue and the excess droppings filling up pavements. Saying that rubbish is littering the town, it was noted that despite Sliema's population almost doubling since 2011, the occurrences of waste collection were complained about to have decreased from 9 times a week to 6 as cries that it should have increased instead came from the angry crowd.

"We cannot treat all places in Malta and Gozo in a one-size-fits-all strategy. Sliema - a locality with 23,000 residents - should not be treated the same way that Mdina is treated (with its 300 residents)," Aquilina said.

The Sliema residents expressed their dissatisfaction towards the authorities for imposing this situation on them. It was also repeated that they will not go silent till these issues are resolved; Vella indicated that future protests will occur should no signs of improvement be observed.

One person who spoke to this newsroom said that landlords "don't care about the tenants" and that it's common for bags of rubbish to be left outside blocks of apartments for days, while another person believes that landlords should be held responsible for the bags taken out by their tenants in blocks of flats.

Aquilina suggested that black bags be collected more often and that this can be done by coinciding their addition pickup dates with days currently exclusive towards other waste bags according to the waste collection schedule.

Calls were also made for waste to be collected at times convenient for residents, rather than for Wasteserv and their employees. This theme of better prioritising residents stuck throughout; some calls were made for residents to be prioritised in these processes, rather than being last in the pecking order.

Astrid Vella also criticized ongoing overdevelopment. She highlighted that the Planning Authority had instructed for houses not to be demolished a whopping 30 years ago. Following this, she said that green wardens are nowhere to be seen, and that infrastructure like sewage infrastructure is not increasing proportionately with the town's population.

"Waste collection has decreased. The only thing that has increased is the population of rats. We cannot keep living like a third world country."

Vella also cried for more funding to be given to local councils so that these residential issues could be tackled more effectively.

Following the protest, The Malta Independent got in contact with Sliema's mayor John Pillow who was in attendance. Pillow, while addressing that the pertinent issues are ongoing, said the Council has been working on many of these issues as he and his councillors are also frustrated at the situation.

Mayor Pillow said that some points should be taken up, e.g., adjusting waste collection times.

However, the mayor was also slightly critical of what was said by residents. He noted that speakers were calling for animal culling programmes to begin to limit the population of pigeons in the area, though when his local council had spent around €6000 conducting a survey on animal culling in the past, responding residents majorly disagreed with the idea.

He also told The Malta Independent that he recognised some faces who he remembers to have put out the wrong waste bag on some days at this protest, saying so to imply that those residents should point a finger towards themselves if they are doing wrong, not just towards imposing authorities.

He commented that while residents have every right to complain about the current situation, past events tell that they must also give some more time for solutions to pan out. He said this while stating that the Council is already looking into solutions for some of the issues brought up during the protest, he hopes that the situation can begin turning itself around through a collaborative effort between residents and all levels of authorities.


  • don't miss