The Arrogant Use of Space – James Gabarretta

Getting from one place to another has become one of the greater challenges Malta faces. With car drivers clogging up the arteries and veins of our public roads; very little is being done to address this clogging/cholesterol in our streets.

The Transport and Infrastructure Ministry, Transport Malta and Infrastructure Malta are surely not setting the record straight about the real problem on Malta’s streets. Like confused doctors they are trying all the panic solutions as remedies; ignoring the warning signs all along. Such remedial action is not without repercussion. Significant losses to agricultural land; the chopping down of mature trees and the deteriorating air quality are the symptoms of these interventions.

Thankfully, we are still in time to prevent further damage to our only pieces of land, the Maltese Islands. Keeping in mind that we are all sharing the same place; it follows that the efficient use of space must be sought. Expanding roads for private vehicles is simply an arrogant use of space.

What is needed is surely the promotion of an alternative. If there is to be any major road widening, this  should only be made keeping mind the needs of public transport. We believe that public transport can be made to be the most efficient mode of travelling during peak hours. Why is it that a bus user has to walk to a bus stop, which more often than not has no shelter, rain or sunshine, wait for an indefinite amount of time, then board an overly packed bus only to be still stuck in traffic because private vehicles are still clogging the roads, either because there are too many or because of badly parked vehicles. As it stands, public transport users are expected to only make sacrifices. It is no wonder that the private vehicle has become the mode of choice, among most people, even though really and truly they also end up stuck in traffic of their own making.

This is surely a matter which is not solved by making roads wider, but by a holistic effort at making public transport and other alternative modes of transport the norm. It is simply blasphemy in the name of sustainable development that street expansion and car parking are the main solutions being sought. It is time to say a big no thank you to the arrogant use of our public spaces and a yes please to the greening of our country.

James Gabarretta
Chairperson ADŻ, AD Spokesperson on the Urban Environment