NGO invites Gozo Ministry back to table over controversial Marsalforn road project

Din L-Art Ħelwa Għawdex has called out the Gozo Ministry for going back on an agreement relating to the controversial reconstruction of the Marsalforn road, calling for joint discussions and adding it is not too late to stop the misdirection of public funds to the project. 

The Marsalforn road reconstruction project has been in the pipeline for several years. In 2021, the NGO and the ministry issued a joint press release noting that Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri would work to achieve a more sensitive design for the project that would retain the road’s scenic character while minimising tree loss and the use of agricultural land.

In a press release on Friday, ​​Din L-Art Ħelwa Għawdex said that following this previous statement, they took a “conscious decision” not to challenge the Planning Authority’s approval.

But now, according to the permit, the arterial road will be widened between Victoria and Marsalforn, and another road will be developed to bypass traffic away from the centre of Victoria.

The project has been controversial from the start, but complaints have fallen on deaf ears.

To facilitate the project, the Environment and Resources Authority earlier this week permitted the ministry to uproot almost 100 trees along the road, saying 62 would be transplanted while 37 would be replaced.

However, the NGO says that after looking at the final plans submitted by the ministry and data from its architects, it seems that 200 mature trees will be uprooted.

Furthermore, the total amount of land to be “gobbled up” will be just 12% less than initially planned at 10,692 square metres, and there were “no specific assurances about the safety of the numerous valley watercourses and reservoirs in the Marsalforn Valley.”

The NGO said the ministry claimed it could not implement the previous agreement mentioned in the 2021 joint statement because of road regulations and standards imposed by different government authorities. 

However, the press release states that the ministry has refused to meet to discuss the situation despite multiple requests made to the government and its architects.

“DLĦGħ expresses deep disappointment with this outcome and cannot agree with the major and unnecessary negative impact on the Marsalforn Valley and road on which traffic congestion is practically non-existent, contending that professional resurfacing and the removal of one of two dangerous spots is enough,” the press release states.

The statement continues that they are ready to meet with the Gozo Ministry at a technical level to work together on revising the plans “to avoid any misdirected use of public funds and also to acknowledge the growing public outrage over the general state of construction and impact of large infrastructural projects on Gozo’s environment.”

They state there is still time to halt the plans and readdress issues in a calm, reasonable, and pragmatic manner, “allowing common sense to prevail”.

                           

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A.gatt
A.gatt
1 month ago

Resurfacing the existing road is enough. You have to keep in mind that the traffic is minimal. Whenever I use it there would not be more than six cars using the road.

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