The Malta Independent 19 April 2024, Friday
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Send plans for Swieqi and St Julian's junction back to the drawing board, NGO says

Thursday, 22 February 2024, 10:56 Last update: about 3 months ago

NGO Graffitti said Thursday the plans for the Swieqi/St Julian’s junction are yet another car-centric proposal which will not alleviate traffic.

Infrastructure Malta recently announced plans for a new road junction in Paceville, at the intersection between Swieqi and St Julian’s.

The initial plans and renders published are extremely concerning, the NGO said. This project, worth between €40 and €50 million in public funds, seems to be yet another car-centric project that will neither alleviate traffic in the long term, nor cater for the needs of anyone except car users, it added.

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"Various people - working people, young people, the elderly, and those with certain disabilities - are particularly dependent on public transport to travel, yet the plans seem to include no bus lanes and very limited connections for pedestrians and cyclists." Given that four lanes of the project are dedicated almost exclusively to cars, space is clearly not the issue, the NGO said.

"Only about 52% of Malta's total population has a Maltese driving licence, meaning that such a car-centric project is only catering for about half the population. Our current transport model is not only incredibly inefficient, but also grossly unjust, prioritising cars over all other means of transport, and so the needs of some people over others." It is completely unacceptable that these plans seem to make no provisions for those reliant on public transport, and very little provisions for pedestrians and cyclists, the NGO said.

Furthermore, this infrastructure is partly intended to cater to the traffic demands of new developments in the area, it said. "These include Joseph Portelli’s Mercury Tower and the PX Lettings’ tower – both of which are in the immediate vicinity – as well as the DB project on the former ITS site and Garnet Investments Limited’s proposed mega-development on the Villa Rosa site. This means that infrastructure which ultimately serves the profits of property speculators is being financed using public funds. The government should not be beholden to business interests and their traffic woes, and paying taxpayer's money to accommodate their profits is obscene."

The NGO urged the authorities to redesign the project by taking into consideration questions of justice and equity. "The project in its current form does not look towards the future, but effectively towards the past, based on an outdated approach to traffic management and a car-centric vision that does not take public or active transport into account."

We would like to ask why, after so many major road projects and traffic still at a stand-still, does the government keep pursuing the same expensive, failed solutions? Major projects at Marsa, Kappara and elsewhere have only functioned to create more demand for cars or shifted bottlenecks elsewhere. An effective approach to traffic management requires a break with this strategy in favour of prioritising other means of transport, namely public transport, but also walking and cycling. We hope that any consultation taking place listens to people's concerns and suggestions and takes them seriously into account," Graffitti said.

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