GRTU dubs traffic situation ‘unacceptable’, calls for immediate action
The traffic situation has become unbearable and unacceptable, the GRTU - Malta Chamber of SMEs – said yesterday.
In a statement, the GRTU said that it has been inundated by members’ concerns from across business sectors that the alarming situation is not just one of frustration and tardiness, but profitability and competitiveness.
“Justifications related to infrastructure and discussing longterm possibilities have long expired,” the GRTU said.
The GRTU said its members “have invested time and resources to consult, discuss and put forward proposals to the authorities responsible for transport and traffic management, proposals that have time and time again been left on the shelf. The GRTU’s approach was always to gather around the table and discuss but this has not achieved anything close to the desired results of improvement. The situation is affecting business across the board and the lack of effective planning and implementation are resulting in each and every one of us paying the price.
“Chauffeur-driven transport has chosen not to operate during specific peak times, transport and delivery costs are rising due to inefficiencies caused by heavy traffic, customers are giving up driving to go shopping, and workers are becoming less efficient per day of work due to time wasted in traffic.
“The expectation for drivers and businesses to be patient with the traffic situation and accept the status quo should not even be considered. Tangible actions need to be taken imminently.”
The GRTU called for the authorities to take the following immediate action to alleviate the traffic crisis:
1. Private Collective Transport – Free for all schools, organised transport for all government employees and immediate outlay of incentives for employers to organise private collective transport for their own workers.
2. Enforcement Overhaul – Local Wardens and TM Officials need to work hand-in-hand with traffic police. Giving out fines needs to be completely and irreversibly replaced with coordinating and assisting traffic at all times but more during peak traffic. Emergency teams need to be closer to peak areas to immediately address any traffic collisions with minimum impact on flow of traffic. Smart application of intelligent transport systems such as traffic lights and screens which are currently either underutilised, used to fine, or exacerbating rather than supporting traffic, need to be enhanced and adapted to support and manage traffic flows. A Crisis Traffic Team needs to be set up to take immediate action, monitor daily if need be, implement decisions and review decisions according to traffic impact and situation.
3. Change in Attitude for Public works and Closures - Projects with national impact such as the Kappara Junction Project need to have work undertaken roundthe-clock without further excuses. This project is a major burden on traffic and every hour wasted from its completion is a disservice to the country. There is so much work that can be carried out during the night and weekends to reduce the overall detailed project time plan, which to date has not yet been provided to the GRTU. Zero allowance of public/maintenance works or part-/full- closures by any public entity to allow permits during peak hours.
4. Immediate implementation of Car Parks/Park and Ride options – The GRTU has been pushing for under-utilised areas to be used as park and ride zones offering key parking areas and shuttle service to hub areas, such as the Gzira Stadium. Car park development needs to be incentivised and given priority at Planning Authority level.
5. Shift to staggering hours, online services, work-from-home and flexitime –government has to lead by example. Departments across the board need to immediately adopt a work-from-home approach during specific hours and staggering the working times of employees. It cannot be sustainable for everyone to drive to Valletta at the same time because this is what has always been done.