Thousands of citizens responded to the call by over 60 organisations to attend a protest in Valletta today that presented six demands to the government.
People came together before the law courts in Valletta, which is also the site where assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia is remembered every month on the date she was killed in a car bomb a few metres outside her home two years ago.
The crowd walked to Merchants Street before gathering in front of the parliament building. Drums beat and people chanted ‘enough is enough’ in Maltese, carrying placards calling for environmental protection and an end to destructive development.
Fed up with the “dust, danger, noise, broken pavements, illegal dumping of waste”, the participants took to the streets to voice their disappointment at the “completely inadequate” response from the government.
Organisations including Moviment Graffitti, Din L-Art Ħelwa, Birdlife, Ramblers, FAA, aditus, Kopin, Fish4Tomorrow and SOS Malta participated alongside 59 others including resident associations, professional and student organisations.
Asking the government to put citizens’ health at the forefront of all decision making, the organisations together issued a joint list issued a list of six demands.
They include calling for more transparency and independence from the environment and planning industries to ensure that they are “free from commercial and political interests”, as well as a moratorium on large scale projects until a serious plan for development in the country was introduced.
The demands also include a reconsideration of the road-widening plans that will destroy trees and arable land, proper regulation of the construction industry and a “radical change” in planning policies that respect the majority ‘instead of protecting the profits of a few”.
This includes the revocation of permits for hotels and fuel stations on ODZ land and the high rise buildings policy.
Citizens are also demanding that the government safeguard open spaces, commit to reaching and surpassing emissions targets, and protect natural habitats to prevent further loss of biodiversity.
At least five buildings collapsed in the last two years and three foreign construction workers have lost their lives on Maltese building sites between November 2018 and March 2019.
In June, The Chamber of Architects said these incidents were “a direct symptom of the chaos that prevails in the industry” which results in a “unacceptably high and unnecessary risk” to members of the public.