The lessons to be learnt by Malta

Malta Independent - - FEATURE -

The col­lapse of the Mo­randi Bridge in Genoa ear­lier this month, in which 43 peo­ple lost their lives, has re­ver­ber­ated not just in Italy, but the world over. The blame game quickly be­gan, with the Ital­ian govern­ment point­ing fin­gers at the Euro­pean Union and the pri­vate sec­tor for lack of funds and main­te­nance, while res­i­dents mourned the vic­tims and called for bet­ter up­keep of the in­fra­struc­ture.

The de­bate has spilled over to Malta too, and ques­tions have been raised about our own bridges and fly­overs, built over many years un­der dif­fer­ent ad­min­is­tra­tions to im­prove traf­fic flow and ease ac­cess from one point to an­other. The first bridge to make the news was that form­ing part of the Ħam­run by­pass, with pho­tos show­ing that the struc­ture has not been main­tained well, although the trans­port min­istry in­sists there is no dan­ger and that re­pairs are in the pipe­line.

More re­cently, the prom­e­nade in Bal­luta Bay was par­tially closed off to the pub­lic

Ed­i­tor’s pick

af­ter The Malta In­de­pen­dent alerted the min­istry to po­ten­tial prob­lems with the col­umns sup­port­ing the stretch of road where thou­sands of peo­ple take a stroll each and ev­ery day, apart from the thou­sands of cars that make use of this pop­u­lar road link­ing St Ju­lian’s and Sliema. There is no doubt that the Labour govern­ment is giv­ing great at­ten­tion to the road net­work in Malta. Af­ter the com­ple­tion of the Coast Road and Kap­para fly­over, work is un­der­way to wi­den the Ħam­run by­pass, while the project near the Ad­do­lorata Ceme­tery is in its ini­tial phases. There are other pock­ets that need to be seen to in what is known as the north-south con­nec­tion, in­clud­ing the stretch in St An­drew’s, which is al­ways a bot­tle­neck area for traf­fic. But, apart from the build­ing of new roads as well as the widen­ing of oth­ers, the au­thor­i­ties – the min­istry and Trans­port Malta – must not ig­nore the main­te­nance of ex­ist­ing struc­tures. We are not only re­fer­ring to the al­ready-men­tioned bridges and fly­overs which need con­stant at­ten­tion, but also to the reg­u­lar up­keep of roads, such as resur­fac­ing.

Too many roads are ne­glected, re­sult­ing in nu­mer­ous pot­holes, while in other ar­eas, the ir­reg­u­lar sur­face makes driv­ing a rather bumpy ex­pe­ri­ence which could also be dan­ger­ous if driv­ers are caught un­awares or are driv­ing at speed. Go­ing back to bridges and fly­overs, the Genoa bridge col­lapse makes it im­per­a­tive that the govern­ment and Trans­port Malta carry out as­sess­ments on the ex­ist­ing struc­tures and, where nec­es­sary, come up with a list of pri­or­i­ties of when any re­pairs/main­te­nance work will be car­ried out. This list should then be made pub­lic to put peo­ple’s minds at rest that the au­thor­i­ties are do­ing all they can to pre­vent any ac­ci­dents from hap­pen­ing. It would be a sad day if Malta were to go through the same tragedy as Italy did a few weeks ago, sim­ply be­cause there is ne­glect.

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