The Malta Independent 17 June 2024, Monday
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The story behind the Marsa Junction project?

Noel Grima Sunday, 21 April 2024, 07:38 Last update: about 3 months ago
‘The Marsa Junction – Hidden secrets’
Author: Arnold Cassola
Publisher: Midsea Books / 2023
Pages: 80

Between 2013 and 2020, the government of Malta reportedly utilised approximately €700 million of EU funds for chopping up trees, cementing over valuable green spaces and the widening of roads in order to facilitate, it was said, traffic flows in Malta.

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As predicted and expected by environmentalists, this has proved to be a great flop, with motorists in Malta today ending up more stuck than ever in traffic jams.

In particular, a principal part of this heavy investment regarded the “Spaghetti Junction” near the cemetery. There, as in other parts of Malta, badly designed roads and roundabouts slowed traffic and frustrated the users.

But in all this there were some who did profit from this konkos madness. This book, by Arnold Cassola, points at the hidden machinations behind the Marsa Junction project and sheds light on the financial “expectations” of some of the players involved.

The book is based on a collection of emails and WhatsApp messages that one day were received by the author. He never discovered the source of the leaks, whether they were shared with others, and most importantly, their underlying agenda. He also bases his conclusions on reports on other Maltese news sources.

As far as I can remember neither Prof. Cassola nor the other authors quoted by him were sued for libel for these revelations. But this, as we all know, does not necessarily mean that the revelations were true nor indeed that they were untrue.

The protagonist of this tale is Yorgen Fenech, now accused of being a mastermind in the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

But Fenech is neither a roads’ engineer nor an expert on government funding.

He is the classical middleman, who uses his wide contacts, to get government contracts for his clients.

He finds a Turkish company, not previously his client, helps it apply, watches over the process of the application, smooths things when the Turkish company runs into difficulties and ensures prompt payment once the work is done.

Nothing spectacular, one might say. There must be hundreds out there doing this, sharing the same work.

Or else we’re missing the wood for the trees. There are other issues that merit more analysis.

Ever since Eddie Fenech Adami was given a huge sum to spend by the European summit of Copenhagen in December 2002, the accent has been on road building. In a different world, the money could have been spent differently – on education, for instance.

Malta is a small, densely populated island and there are more cars than the island can hold.

There may be a case for improving the roads especially some key nodes but giving the island roads that compete with an Autostrada is not the right way forward.

Aesthetically, the Marsa Spaghetti Junction is a jumble of roads, flyovers and bridges going everywhere. Couldn’t it have been made simpler and more pleasing to the eye?

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