Unlicensed drivers on lawless roads

No one who’s experienced Maltese roads was surprised to hear driver’s licences were issued based on political connections rather than competence.

I mean, it’s a good enough qualification for road works contracts, highly paid posts in the civil service and running the Armed Forces. Why shouldn’t political connections bestow the ability to hurtle down congested roads at the helm of 1,400kg of metal?

Three Transport Malta officials were charged this week for helping new drivers cheat on their exams.

One of the accused, Transport Malta director Clint Mansueto, had his phone searched by police. They found chats with people linked to ‘a political party’ who provided the director with information on candidates that were going to get a driver’s licence regardless of how incompetently they performed.

Mansueto told police he felt pressured to ensure certain candidates passed “because they were working at a villa belonging to a government minister”.

As sure as bears bear and bees bee, that’s where the excuses fixated.

When contacted for their insights into this shocking case, current and former government ministers denied knowing anything about it. Their ironclad alibi? ‘I don’t own a villa.’

While one could hardly expect the legalities of the case to hinge on the nomenclature of detached houses, even here, ministerial standards for honesty were lax.

In denying his ownership of a villa, Jose Herrera, who was culture minister when these licensing shenanigans took place, seems to have forgotten the villa he included on his 2020 ministerial declaration of assets.

To be fair, it’s not like driving standards in the country could get much worse. These erroneously passed drivers were putting the pedal to the metal with a surprising number of people driving without a licence at all.

Police roadblocks netted 46 unlicensed drivers in 2016, a particularly good year for enforcement, if not for prosecution. Just 28 of them were found guilty, raising the question of just how incompetent prosecutors had to be to mess that one up. The punishment? A total of €6,265 in fines.

The most blatant case I came across was that of an illiterate 24-year-old man who couldn’t pass his theory exam but drove anyway. The traffic policeman who pulled him over told the courts he did so because this particular driver was well known for driving without a licence.

What did he do?

He drove off, forcing police to stop him again a few metres away. The unlicensed driver then got out of his car, accused the officer of ‘picking on him’ and threatened to shoot him. The accused admitted to all charges and was given an €800 fine and a year’s probation.

It sounds like a comedy sketch, but this is the reality on Malta’s roads, where law enforcement is hit or miss — mostly miss.

There’s nothing funny about the consequences. Just last month, the man charged with the hit-and-run killing of a pedestrian in Zejtun was found to have been driving without a licence or insurance. Would Antoine Degabriele be alive today if traffic laws — and proper licensing — were enforced?

You can expect nothing to change, except for the worse. Transport Malta sees no need for an internal inquiry into this scam because ‘the police are investigating’.

Rather than figuring out how the perpetrators evaded whatever checks and balances should be in place when issuing a driver’s licence, Transport Malta has dumped responsibility onto an overstretched institution with a track record of failure to prosecute political corruption.

The police have yet to clear up their own road-related corruption scandal, let alone deal with Transport Malta’s.

Does anyone even remember the event that briefly made Malta the world’s news headline laughing stock in 2020?

Just over two years ago, two-thirds of the country’s traffic police — including a superintendent — were arrested in connection with a scam that saw them bill hundreds of hours of overtime for work they never performed.

They were also accused of stealing fuel from the police garage for personal use or sale and, running a protection racket, taking money from construction companies and transport firms to look the other way on enforcement.

Enraged at being caught, disgraced police officers hunted down the whistleblower while the Malta Police tried to convince what was left of the honest citizenry that it was investigating itself.

Even for the police, omertà was more important than upholding the law they’d taken an oath to protect. It wasn’t the person who committed the crime but the person who snitched who was guilty.

Heard anything about it since? Me neither.

                           
                               
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Francis Said
Francis Said
29 days ago

Unfortunately this is part and parcel of what many have voted for.
When the head of a fish stinks, the rest of the fish is rotten.
The true moral values and principles that our forefathers have over the years passed on to us are no inexistent to the majority.
This is not the true Maltese character that earned our Country the George Cross. All this blatant corruption and greed is the new god.

Lawrence Mifsud
Lawrence Mifsud
29 days ago

Judgmemt Day is not far away; but if the judges are biased?

Greed
Greed
29 days ago

Which some surely are hence why they were put in the judiciary in the 1st place?

KLAUS
KLAUS
28 days ago

If the little people are persecuted and the big fish are let off the hook,

then we have no law, only a protection program of corruption and injustice. 

Mar
Mar
28 days ago

have you voted labor ??? this is the result, people whizzing through the streets of Malta without any driving experience, all this, to favor some companies and lower the salaries of the drivers. Experienced people flee Malta because of the meager pay they give, so ask yourself what level of personal espicialization they are creating in Malta ..

Joseph Tabone Adami
Joseph Tabone Adami
28 days ago

What amazes me in the Zejtun hit-and-run tragedy is that, at one point in the Court proceedings, the Police stated that they did not really know who, at the time, was at the driving seat of the vehicle involved.

Yet they brought a man to justice, accusing him of driving without a licence or insurance! I assume that the man’s defence lawyer failed to notice this at all.

I have not yet heard that the Police have, since, dropped their case against the man.

Chan
Chan
26 days ago

There are a lot of innocent people standing trial for crimes they did not commit in malta and with no evidence against them. Yet they spend years in the court instead of the cases being dropped. But the corrupt people are exonerated when there is an abundance of evidence against them. What a sorry state this country is in. All the institutions are corrupt so there can never be justice

Mick
Mick
28 days ago

I think that there were 37 of them who were suspended on full pay?? and to this day we are still paying out, court cases haven’t been heard of and Gafa knows nothing about it, so where does it stop?

Charles
Charles
28 days ago

When in God’s name is this RAMPANT CORRUPTION going to end?? How about our Prime Minister taking the bull by the horn and doing his sworn ( on the HOLY CROSS) elected duty by hauling in ALL his ministers and putting all his cards on the table and telling them to shape up or ship out! He would go down in history as the PM with the guts to clean up Castile once and for all! Is this the IMPOSSIBLE DREAM??

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