The Malta Independent 27 May 2024, Monday
View E-Paper

Marsalforn road project amendments anticipated but unconfirmed, NGO says

Isaac Saliba Monday, 22 April 2024, 08:37 Last update: about 2 months ago

An NGO is claiming it is anticipating changes to the planned project to widen the road between Marsalforn and Victoria, but says that it is still awaiting confirmation from the Gozo Ministry.

As the situation stands, planned roadworks for Marsalforn Road in Gozo include the uprooting of 200 trees and the use of nearly 11,000 square metres of agriculturally viable land. The Ministry for Gozo awarded the €9 million tender to companies Gatt Tarmac Ltd and Prax Concrete Ltd.

ADVERTISEMENT

Many residents, environmentalists, and NGOs have spoken out against this project and publicly called for the Ministry for Gozo and Planning to reconsider the plans and find ways for the environmental impact to the area to be minimised as much as possible.

One such NGO, Din L-Art Ħelwa, has called for the project to be postponed until these issues are addressed and remedied.

Din L-Art Ħelwa Gozo had expressed several reasons why the project should be postponed and amended. The reasons include the unnecessary negative impact on the Marsalforn valley and road, and that no assurances about the safety of the valley watercourses and reservoirs have been given. Along with that, the NGO said that traffic congestion in that area is practically non-existent and that the professional resurfacing and removal of two dangerous spots would be enough.

The Malta Independent reached out to Patrick Calleja, the executive president of Din L-Art Ħelwa, to speak further on the matter and what he believes should be done.

Calleja said that the NGO met with Clint Camilleri, the Minister for Gozo and Planning, on 11 April.

He remarked that the NGO argued there were never any traffic jams along the Marsalforn Road and added that with the distance being less than four kilometres, the journey time is consistently less than five minutes. With that said, Calleja questioned what difference it would make to widen the road, and remarked that it certainly does not justify uprooting 200 trees to do so.

Calleja said that the NGO pointed out that the cycling organisation known as Rota were against the project and did not want a cycling lane to be established. He explained that this is relevant as the introduction of a cycling lane is one of the main reasons given by the Ministry for the widening of the carriageway. He added that the Ministry is expected to liaise with Rota to clarify this and potentially amend the project’s plans.

Din L-Art Ħelwa’s Executive President continued that Minister Camilleri had told the NGO that the plans would be amended. Din L-Art Ħelwa had asked for the plans to be officially amended before any works were to commence. “We agreed to the idea of bypassing Victoria to reduce traffic in the centre.”

He clarified that at the moment nothing has been confirmed, but following their meeting with the Minister the NGO is expecting favourable and welcome changes to the project to be made official. Updates were expected to be given to the NGO following the meeting but nothing has been received as of yet.

Asked if there is concern among NGOs regarding whether construction in Gozo may be ramping up and threatening the island’s environment and appearance, he replied that yes, this is a concern that many NGOs are worried about due to the rate of development in Gozo and the poor quality associated with it. He added that the same concerns are expressed in regard to development in Malta.

Calleja concluded by saying that Din L-Art Ħelwa is hopeful that the discussions with the Ministry for Gozo and Planning ultimately prove fruitful and that amendments to the project plans which adequately address people’s concerns are finalised and made official.

  • don't miss