Returning our roads back to the people

Transport Minister Aaron Farrugia’s comments this past week where he tried to ridicule NGO Rota.mt’s proposals towards more sustainable transport belies the Government’s strong lack of vision, political will and awareness of how a modern transport and mobility policy could be adopted in our country. Unfortunately the Minister has failed to notice that the transport policy he is promoting has already failed in Europe in the 60s and the 70s – far from being a ‘modern policy’.

ADPD – The Green Party Secretary General Dr Ralph Cassar said “it is absolutely false that the construction of more flyovers, including the current confusion surrounding the airport as well as that being proposed for Msida, and the haphazard widening of roads will lead to more mobility ‘efficiency’. What leads the Minister to these mistaken ideas? Mobility efficiency in 2022 means safer urban roads, with less traffic, more pedestrianized areas and roads reserved for public transport and alternative means such as bikes and pedelecs, bicycle super-highways that connect post-secondary education institutions with the towns and villages surrounding them, safer roads around schools and more space for bikes and pedelecs, and a Bus Rapid Transit system along the main roads, to offer a safer transit towards central areas in Malta and Gozo.”

“We should be aiming at having large car-free areas within our towns and villages – as is currently available in many European cities. A large chunk of the space currently monopolised by cars should be returned to the public, bikes and public transport, and through the professional planting of trees in order to improve aesthetically our urban environment. This is what our quality of life deserves – otherwise we will remain the country that lacks appeal and where everything goes”.

Dr Cassar also said that “it is a well-documented fact that transport is the main source of greenhouse gas emissions and other dangerous pollutants in Malta. Half the energy consumption is in fact currently used for transport. This is due to the fact that successive governments have focused their policy on the use of private vehicles in spite of the fact that we have short distances to travel in Malta. As in many other cases the Government’s rhetoric on climate emergency does not translate into action. In the transport sector government is actually working against the climate, against the environment and against the real citizen’s interests.”

ADPD – The Green Party Chairperson Carmel Cacopardo said that the fact that according to the EU-financed National Master Plan 2025 that the Government commissioned half of all car-trips in Malta have a duration which is less than 15 minutes should make it easier to encourage a change in transport mode and help rather than hinder those who consider using alternative means of transport. The roads belong to all and should be designed to give due space to those who at the moment are barred from our dangerous roads. In fact, one stark example where the Government is ignoring the Masterplan recommendations is the creation of ‘bus corridors’ and more space for public transport on our roads. The masterplan document states loud and clear: “data shows that about 50% of trips are under 15 minutes illustrating that mobility is produced at a local level on very short paths. This therefore creates the opportunity to increase the modal share for walking and cycling.”

“We do not need more reports to state the obvious because we already have all the data we need. It is the action that is lacking due to the massive obstacle put forward by politicians over the years that have failed to lead a policy of change, reforming our transport and roads sector. Politicians that have been promoting private car travel and badly designed roads instead of pushing for alternative and cheaper means of transport.”

“This type of policy is a result of a parliamentary system dominated by two parties. Plurality in political voices in parliament will bring the death knell to this type of obsolete policy that tries to please at all costs by preserving the status quo. No wonder that the parties currently in parliament copy each other’s policies and resist reforming the electoral system,” concluded Cacopardo.

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It-toroq lura għand in-nies

Il-kummenti li ta l-Ministru tat-Trasport Aaron Farrugia ftit tal-jiem ilu, li fihom ipprova jirredikola l-proposti tal-NGO Rota.mt li taħdem favur bidla lejn trasport aktar sostenibbli, jixhed nuqqas kbira ta’ viżjoni, ta’ rieda politika u ta’ għarfien mill-Gvern fejn tidħol politika moderna dwar it-trasport u l-mobilità f’pajjiżna. Il-Ministru sfortunatament għadu ma’ ndunax li qed jipprattika l-politika tat-trasport li falliet fl-Ewropa fis-sittinijiet u s-sebgħinijiet – altru milli ‘politika moderna’.

“Assolutament mhux veru li bini ta’ flyovers, inkluż il-konfużjoni preżenti ħdejn l-ajruport kif ukoll dak propost f’nofs l-Imsida, u twessiegħ ta’ toroq bl-addoċċ hija s-soluzzjoni għal ‘effiċjenza’ fil-mobilità. Minn fejn qed iġib dawn l-ideat żbaljati l-Ministru? Effiċjenza fil-mobilità fis-sena 2022 tfisser toroq urbani aktar sikuri, b’inqas traffiku fihom, aktar toroq urbani pedestrijanizzati u riservati għat-trasport pubbliku u mezzi alternattivi bħar-roti u roti elettriċi, bicycle super-highways li jgħaqqdu l-istituzzjonijiet edukattivi post-sekondarji mal-irħula u l-ibliet tal-madwar, toroq sikuri madwar l-iskejjel kollha, u aktar spazju għar-roti, roti elettriċi, u għal sistema Bus Rapid Transit tul l-arterji prinċipali kollha, biex dawn joffru traġitt sikur lejn ħafna postijiet ċentrali f’Malta u Għawdex.”

“Il-mira tagħna għandha tkun għal żoni kbar fl-irħula u l-ibliet mingħajr karozzi – bħal ma naraw f’diversi bliet Ewropej. L-ispazju kbir li jieħdu l-karozzi, parti kbira minnu għandu jgħadid lura lejn in-nies, ir-roti u t-trasport pubbliku, u jintuża biex it-toroq isiru isbaħ permezz ta’ programm ta’ tħawwil professjonali ta’ siġar fit-toroq urbani. Il-kwalità tal-ħajja tagħna hekk titlob, inkella se nibqgħu magħrufin bħala l-pajjiż tal-kruha u t-traskuraġni.”

Dan qalu s-Segretarju Ġenerali ta’ ADPD – The Green Party, Dr Ralph Cassar. “Huwa fatt dokumentat li t-trasport huwa sors ewlieni emissjonijiet ta’ gassijiet serra u tniġġis ieħor perikoluż f’Malta. Nofs l-enerġija kunsmata filfatt tintuża għal mezzi tat-trasport. Dan għax il-politika ta’ gvern wara ieħor kienet u għadha ċċentrata fuq il-karozzi minkejja li d-distanzi f’Malta huma żgħar. Bħal f’ħafna każi l-Gvern jitkellem fuq l-emerġenza klima imma fil-qasam tat-trasport jaġixxi kontra l-klima, kontra l-ambjent u kontra l-interessi vera tan-nies.”

Iċ-Chairperson ta’ ADPD – The Green Party Carmel Cacopardo qal li l-fatt li skont in-National Transport Master Plan 2025 iffinanzjat mill-UE u kummisjonat mill-Gvern nofs il-vjaġġi f’Malta huma ta’ inqas minn kwarta (Transport Masterplan) suppost jagħmilha aktar faċli biex il-Gvern iħajjar bidla fil-mod ta’ trasport u jiffaċilità u mhux itellef lil min jitħajjar juża mezzi alternattivi tat-trasport. It-toroq huma ta’ kulħadd u għandhom jiġu disinjati biex jagħtu l-ispazju mistħoqq lil min sa issa huwa mkeċċi mit-toroq perikolużi li għandna. Filfatt, eżempju wieħed ta’ miżuri fir-rapport li l-Gvern qed jinjora hija ‘bus corridors’ u aktar spazju fit-toroq għat-trasport pubbliku. Ir-rapport jgħid iswed fuq l-abjad: “data shows that about 50% of trips are under 15 minutes illustrating that mobility is produced at a local level on very short paths. This therefore creates the opportunity to increase the modal share for walking and cycling.”

“Iż-żmien tar-rapporti spiċċa għax id-data li għandna bżonn diġà teżisti. L-azzjoni iżda hija nieqsa minħabba l-ostakolu kbir ta’ politiċi li tul is-snin għażlu li ma jmexxux ‘il quddiem politika li tbiddel, tirriforma l-qasam tat-trasport u tat-toroq. Politiċi li għażlu li jippromwovu l-vjaġġar bil-karozzi u jżidu t-toroq iddisinjati ħażin, minflok li jippromwovu meżżi differenti u irħas ta’ trasport.”

“Din it-tip ta’ politika hija frott ta’ sistema ta’ parlament iddominat minn żewġ partiti. Il-pluralità ta’ ilħna politiċi fil-parlament twassal għad-daqqa mortali għal din it-tip ta’ politika skaduta li tipprova tingħoġob billi tippreserva l-istatus quo. Mhux ta’ b’xejn il-partiti fil-parlament jikkupjaw il-policies ta’ xulxin u jirreżistu riformi fis-sistema elettorali”, ikkonkluda Cacopardo.

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