Traffic and environment concerns for university students
The general feeling amongst university students following Monday’s Budget 2017 presentation is that whilst the government was keen to help the vulnerable members of society, they failed to address the traffic situation and environment properly.
The traffic problem was clearly a hot button issue for the university students the Malta Independent spoke to. A majority expressed disdain at the amount of time they spend in traffic in the morning on their way to a lecture, with a majority saying that they have to leave home at least an hour before their lectures begin at 8am.
A 19 year old male law student jokingly remarked that he would have never got his driving license if he knew it meant that he would be stuck in traffic half of the time. He then said that he feels like nothing concrete is being done to tackle the situation.
The initiative which will see people who turn 18 in 2007 be given a year of free public transport was met with mixed reactions. A large number of the students, even though they will not benefit from the service, praised the government’s intention to get young people to use the bus far more often.
A 23 year old female student from Attard pointed out, that most of them felt that the initiative should have been extended to all students in secondary and tertiary education.
This she said would certainly help with the traffic problem Malta is facing today, since a majority of university students would use the bus instead of their cars; she also wondered why the initiative was directed at individuals who may not even have their driving licenses until the end of that year. The environment was another issue of concern for the students, with a majority of them placing a particular interest in the lack of public space, pedestrianised zones, and over development.
A 22 year old female commerce student from Birkirkara said that she would have liked to see the government take greater initiative in protecting public land and invest heavily in its conversion to large public spaces. She used Manoel Island, White Rocks and Jerma Hotel as examples of occasions were the government should intervene and invest to make public parks which the whole community can enjoy.
The students did praise the government’s initiatives involving solar panels, saying that greener energy was the way forward. With regards to the LNG Tanker based in Marsaskala bay, a number of them seemed to be content with the government’s focus on introducing cleaner energy to Malta, but also expressed concerns regarding safety and the lack of transparency in the project.
A 21 year old male student reading English, complained mainly about the lack of reduction in water and electricity bills. He said, that as a student who also works and lives alone, a reduction would have helped him out significantly, remarking that he expected something to change following the government’s claims of the economic boom the country is experiencing at the moment.
The students also jokingly complained about the usual increase in the cost of tobacco and alcohol, with one man saying that “It felt like the government was on a mission to stop students having fun”.