The night­mare has started

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

We thought it would be bad in Oc­to­ber once the schools started, but as any­one who was out and about on Fri­day can at­test, we now know that the com­ing Christ­mas will be a night­mare on the roads.

From what one could see, there was no real rea­son for the traf­fic jams, no road clo­sures, no ac­ci­dents. It was just the sheer num­ber of cars on the roads at one and the same time and in the same place.

We will get re­peats of this in the days lead­ing to Christ­mas and es­pe­cially in the shop­ping and en­ter­tain­ment dis­tricts.

Now this to a very great ex­tent nul­li­fies the rea­son for the Christ­mas jol­lity. Peo­ple who have to spend two hours or more in end­less queues, only then to find it hard or al­most im­pos­si­ble to park, will re­al­ize their shop­ping spree has been turned into a night­mare.

So, too, peo­ple on their way to a Christ­mas party or gath­er­ing. What starts off as a fes­tive oc­ca­sion can eas­ily be­come an evening of ten­sion or mis­un­der­stand­ing.

Ed­i­tor’s pick

Now in our tra­di­tion, Christ­mas is not Christ­mas with­out fes­tive gath­er­ings and/or shop­ping. But to turn either oc­ca­sion into an ex­cur­sion of ten­sion de­feats the very pur­pose of Christ­mas. What should be a time of joy and com­mu­nal fes­tiv­i­ties be­comes a time of ten­sion, which brings about ac­ci­dents and in­ci­dents, maybe road rage and a gen­eral ex­as­per­a­tion of spir­its.

Now it is clear to one and all we have brought this upon our­selves and we have been long do­ing it. To al­low so many thou­sands of new cars to en­ter the mar­ket, and to al­low our streets to re­main what they have al­ways been (if not worse) was noth­ing else than en­vi­ron­men­tal sui­cide.

It must also be said that this gov­ern­ment and the one pre­ced­ing it have not done much to al­le­vi­ate the sit­u­a­tion. The PN ad­min­is­tra­tion ab­sorbed many EU funds to do up, beau­ti­fully, roads to the North of the coun­try which many do not use on a daily ba­sis, whereas the many dif­fi­cult nodes were left mostly un­tack­led. The present ad­min­is­tra­tion has con­tin­ued work on the Coast Road and is now do­ing the Kap­para Junc­tion up­grade, which, again need do­ing, but at the same time the many dif­fi­cult nodes have been left as they have al­ways been.

It is clear that the traf­fic con­ges­tion sit­u­a­tion can­not be solved from here to Christ­mas, nor for many more Christ­mases to come. The coun­try must get this clear in its mind.

Equally, how­ever, the coun­try must re­al­ize this is a huge prob­lem that does not sur­face around Christ­mas only and it is get­ting worse day af­ter day. The coun­try must also re­al­ize that to tackle this prob­lem re­quires far more money than has been spent so far (not in­clud­ing EU funds) and that rather than mere patch­ing, what is needed is deep, strate­gic, long-term.

How­ever, it would also seem that nei­ther on Fri­day at noon­time nor on Fri­day evening were the po­lice no­tice­able by their pres­ence to help the traf­fic flow. This must not mean that traf­fic jams have to be blamed on po­lice ab­sence but a po­lice pres­ence could help.

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