As a sit-in protest against the building of a new road in Dingli enters its fourth day, Moviment Graffitti activists are facing a judicial protest. The group, together with other members of the public who joined in the protest, have been stalling a road project in the area of Sqaq il-Muzew in Dingli for the past three days.
Infrastructure Malta contractors were on site again on Wednesday morning trying to make their way through the protestors who want to protect the ODZ area.
Moviment Graffitti announced, later in the afternoon, that the activists were facing a judicial protest signed by three Dingli residents.
The judicial protest was filed by John Sammut, Rose Sammut and Carmel Galea who reside in Sqaq il-Muzew. They are arguing that the group is working against the ‘wishes of the residents’ and at the ‘detriment of resident’s safety’.
The three residents said the activists are disturbing public peace and preventing them from leaving their homes. They demand action be taken by the authorities.
Former Labour Party reporter and lawyer Charlon Gouder and legal procurator Jolene Pace Ciscaldi signed the documents.
The activists described this as the latest ‘PR stunt’ by Infrastructure Malta and Minister Ian Borg.
Graffitti said its activists also endured malicious phone calls and violent behaviour from contractors on Monday and Tuesday, adding it would be publishing evidence.
In a statement, the activists confirmed that a petition signed by 192 Dingli residents opposing the road – including residents in the affected streets – was sent to Minister Borg and to CEO of Infrastructure Malta Frederick Azzopardi. It said that the number of signatories is expected to increase.
“Infrastructure Malta and their contractors are clearly panicked and desperate. They resort to lies, violence and half-truths, but this is their standard way of working, “the organisation said.
Activists are objecting to the works arguing that the new road will pass through an ODZ land and will destroy mature trees. Together with local farmers and residents, the group is also objecting to the fact that a medieval chapel in Dingli, one of the very first parishes to be documented on the island, was not given legal protection until Graffitti pushed for action.
A number of activists even camped on site and stayed overnight while members of the public showed their support by providing those present with food and water.
While those protesting persevered, despite the bad weather in the past days, Infrastructure Malta has claimed that it is the residents of Dingli who want this new street to be built to ‘improve connectivity and create safe access to residents’.
The Environmental and Planning Tribunal turned down the appeal against the Environmental and Resource Authority’s permit for the removal of three trees in the area. ERA confirmed its approval for the uprooting of these trees adding that Infrastructure Malta would be planting 30 new trees as compensation.
Graffitti had managed to stop works on the same road in October 2020, but Infrastructure Malta contractors appeared with their machinery again this week.
Minister Ian Borg said the Dingli Local Council had voted unanimously in favour of the road works. The Labour Party holds the majority in the council.
When news of the road project emerged, residents had contacted The Shift saying they were utterly shocked at the Minister’s arrogance. “Everyone here in Dingli, from both parties, respects Ian Borg. But this is just shocking. This is the locality he grew up in and he should know better,” one resident said.