The lessons to be learnt by Malta
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
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.