Like many other beaches along our coast, Għadira has for several years been under the heavy siege of commercial interests.
Private operators are king as they are allowed to run the beach and lay out sunbeds as they please while we have to be content with the little space that is left. Public space in an overcrowded beach has become ridiculously scarce for the enjoyment of all. Of course this is not an unusual spectacle in Malta, and we all have to thank the laissez-faire attitude of the red and blue Maltese political class for this.
On the blue side we have Jason Azzopardi, who in 2012, while government minister responsible for Lands drafted a white paper which supposedly protected public domain from privatisation and greed. However, on the eve of the 2013 General Election he had given the green light to a 15-year concession to sunbed operators to takeover Għadira bay. Erm… sorry Jason but I thought your 2012 White Paper was supposed to protect the coastal perimeter from private interests.
On the other side we have the Labour Party. When in 2013 a change in government took place, the Malta Tourism Authority chairman Gavin Gulia announced that an agreement was reached with different public and private entities to return half of the beach to the public. Fast forward to 2019 and Għadira is still in the same mess, private operators continue to eat up space for their own personal gain (At the time of writing some form of agreement seems to be in the pipeline).
To add insult to injury another private threat is lurking from the Danish Village Resort, which is situated only a few hundred metres away from the beach. Everybody wants a piece of the pie and the resort has set its eyes on the rocky part of the bay with the plan to privatise the only real coastal stretch still free from commercialisation. The proposed development has been in the pipeline for a long time. A decision on the application is scheduled at the end of this month and it is being recommended for approval.
In the meantime PLPN representatives(particularly Jason Azzopardi and Konrad Mizzi) continue to accuse each other for not taking a stand to protect the public domain. I do not wish to waste time talking about Mizzi and Azzopardi as they have already shown they are not trustworthy because of the heavy baggage they carry. What matters is the PN and PL’s evident reluctance to fix their own wrong-doings. In reality no political will is present as they fear it might hinder the interests of their friends in the business lobby.
When both sides had their chance to redeem themselves in 2016 they completely blew it. This is particularly clear in the dragging process of the legislation concerning the implementation of the local public domain act, which has been put on the back-burner ever since. In the meantime the commercialisation of our entire coast is continuing without any sign of ending. It is blatantly obvious that their vision is only focused to weaken the authorities and favour commercial interests at our expense.
PLPN should stop taking us for a ride: if their attitude does not change soon we will be left with nothing public to safeguard. Protecting our public domain entails much more than promoting clean-ups. It is their responsibility to promote good governance and ensure that the public domain is thoroughly protected with effective policies. It is time they safeguard what is rightfully ours to enjoy in the present and for future generations.
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