When I was young, watching Italian television, there was a deodorant advert with the slogan “Per l’uomo che non deve chiedere. Mai.” This can be translated as “for the man who doesn’t need to ask. Ever.” It was all about embodying a classic macho style with little or no regard for the woman’s feelings or desires. It was all about the man and what he wanted. Those were the late 80s early 90s. It seems this advert must have somewhat impressed the impressionable young mind of our Super Minister Ian Borg, whose arrogance and disregard towards what people want has reached new levels. Minister Borg ignores protests, petitions or any dissident voice.
His baby, the Central Link, is finally nearing completion, with residents breathing a sigh of relief, together with a lot of dust. The Minister’s gaze now moves on to two very ambitious and expensive projects: the Marsascala yacht marina, the estimated cost of which is 183 million. The other is the tunnel between Malta and Gozo at an estimated 300 million. Both projects already have investors. Funnily enough, however, the general public is unable to actually see any Environmental Impact Assessments. The government promises one thing and delivers another. First, we were told that the tunnel was something which Gozitans want, only for a recent independent survey to show that the majority of Gozitans are actually against it. What else are we being expected to take on faith? That even though the man in the street does not want the marina either, that they are unable to comprehend it is in their best interests to go along with it?
However, it is clear as day that these two huge projects will have a tremendous impact on the environment and the people who actually live there. Marsascala residents are up in arms because they have to sacrifice their promenade because rich yacht owners need to park their 12 metre-plus boat. Does Minister Borg turn into a softy when some multimillionaire cannot park his big boat? The tragedy of it! So the skalizi have to suck it up and accept the inevitable, just like people in Attard and Qormi had to put up with the Central Link. The government listens, except when it does not feel like it.
The tunnel will be an environmental disaster in the areas of Imbordin, St. Paul’s Bay and Nadur. The 15km horseshoe tunnel also comes with potential for a fire disaster or earthquake. Can we really find it in our hearts to trust people who can barely fix a pothole let alone be overall responsible for a 15km tunnel under the sea? I do not and I know that most people do not either. There are still too many questions and so few answers, if not perfect silence. A project with tremendous implications for our country, its environment, identity and economy, has largely been conducted behind closed doors, and every objection has gone unheeded. Indeed, our Super Minister has never had to ask for anyone’s opinion, but everyone is only left with so many more questions.
ADPD Deputy Secretary General
Published in the Malta Independent – Sunday 22 September 2021