Lilliput and the Gozo tunnel plan…

It seems that we have entered a new phase in politics. Some are so desperate that they are resorting to promoting silly, ridiculous and Lilliputian ideas. Of course, some will swallow empty promises hook, line and sinker. We have moved one step further in the latest and silliest of ideas: the Malta-Gozo tunnel. The government, through Transport Malta, an authority that cannot even draw up traffic plans for our towns and villages, has issued a tender for a study of this tunnel.
Chris Said, probably bending over backwards to unseat the current reigning “monarch”, Giovanna Debono, the first, “queen” of Gozo, some months ago had even put a price to the fantastic project: €150 million. People in the know mention a €1 billion as a more likely price tag.

Joseph Muscat, eager not to be outdone by the Nationalists, reminded us that Labour was the first to propose such a silly idea. He even resorts to Lilliputian nationalism, saying that “Gozitans will decide”. I had thought Malta and Gozo are one country, electing one Parliament, with citizens paying taxes to one republic. Maybe Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici’s independence proposal has gone through without me realising it.

Comparisons to the Copenhagen-Malmo tunnel and bridge made by some are ridiculous given the millions of people and the fact that it is two countries that are connected, not to mention the vast distances of travel. A 25-minute ferry crossing does not justify the waste of money being proposed.

What is even more ridiculous in the proposal is that over the years the Nationalist government has failed to deliver on more realistic options for an improvement in Malta-Gozo links. Fast ferry services from Gozo to Sa Maison, just minutes away from Valletta, were discontinued.

For years on end we have had no adequate bus service from Ċirkewwa to Valletta, the airport and other places, with passengers scrambling for buses at rush hours. What about combined bus-ferry services, with buses picking up people from Gozo, boarding the ferry and continuing the journey on the same bus to various localities in Malta and vice versa? No, of course not, a tunnel is more feasible, isn’t it?

I will share some down-to-earth proposals, which Alternattiva Demokratika has been making time and again over the years. They are not glitzy ideas but they are serious and doable.

Gozo can get a significant percentage of its energy needs from renewable sources with the added bonus of technical jobs such an investment would mean. What about developing the agritourism industry? Well, not sexy enough for PNPL, I suppose. The need for a proper public transport link – linking Gozitan villages and linking Gozo to commercial, industrial and office centres in Malta, goes without saying. IT services would be another good option for providing jobs in Gozo. A food manufacturing company, which seems to know how to run its business, prides itself on the quality of its products and is now even marketing products as specifically “Gozitan”. The couple of kilometres of sea between the islands have not hampered its success.

It is useless wasting time on the tunnel proposal. The project will never happen. Dr Said knows this. All we are witnessing is jockeying for popularity to please the gullible.

It is indeed sad to see people who should know better teaming up to sell pie-in-the-sky projects to people rather than come up with doable, realistic and simple proposals that would really and truly serve the population of Malta and Gozo and the taxpayer better.

The Giovanna-Chris popularity contest and Dr Muscat and his Gozo MPs’ rush not to be left behind in the rush to champion the silliest proposal of the year just shows the sorry state our political system is in. You can have no part in all this – if you want change, vote for it. The message is in your vote.