Govern­ment and db Group refuse to an­swer ques­tions on in­fra­struc­ture cru­cial to de­vel­op­ment

The Malta Independent on Sunday - - NEWS - ■ Ju­lian Bon­nici

The govern­ment and the db Group have re­fused to an­swer ques­tions over who ex­actly would pay for the con­struc­tion of a tun­nel and other sur­round­ing in­fra­struc­ture cru­cial to the de­vel­op­ment of the com­pany’s project at the for­mer ITS site.

De­spite the Plan­ning Au­thor­ity ap­prov­ing the project, its case of­fi­cer had only rec­om­mended its ap­proval once “a let­ter of com­mit­ment by ei­ther the Govern­ment or the ap­pli­cant with re­gard to the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the nec­es­sary trans­port in­fra­struc­ture” had been pro­vided.

The news­room had pre­vi­ously been in­formed that the con­tract signed be­tween the par­ties stip­u­lated that it would, in fact, be the govern­ment, in ef­fect the tax­payer, who would bear the ex­pense.

In fact, the case of­fi­cer’s re­port seems to in­di­cate that it will be the govern­ment who will be re­quired to pay the bill. The Plan­ning Direc­torate Ad­vi­sory Team noted that: “Trans­port Malta needs to ap­prove the pro­posed road in­fra­struc­ture and com­mit the Trans­port Au­thor­ity for its con­struc­tion in ac­cor­dance with the pro­jected time-frames in the TIS or sug­gest al­ter­na­tive so­lu­tions.”

How­ever, in the past, sources from both the govern­ment and db Group had pro­vided the news­room with con­flict­ing ac­counts, with both in­sist­ing that they them­selves would not foot the bill for the project, do­ing lit­tle to quash the con­cerns that the project could be com­pleted without the con­struc­tion of the tun­nel.

Last June, The Malta In­de­pen­dent on Sun­day was in­formed that the “govern­ment was still in dis­cus­sions to see which fi­nan­cial for­mula should be ap­plied for the de­vel­op­ment”.

The govern­ment had been dis­cussing how to fi­nance the con­struc­tion of the tun­nel with the rel­e­vant stake­hold­ers, and whether it should be db Group it­self, all the de­vel­op­ers (in­clud­ing db) who are cur­rently reap­ing the ben­e­fits of the Paceville and St Ju­lian’s area, or a joint ef­fort be­tween the de­vel­op­ers and the govern­ment. How­ever, noth­ing seems to have ma­te­ri­alised.

Since then, the project has been ap­proved by the PA board with 10 votes in favour to four against, de­spite the thou­sands of ob­jec­tions filed against the project, and with the PA fork­ing out €8,750 to fly in board mem­ber Jacque­line Gili by pri­vate jet for the vote. The Om­buds­man has since opened an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the af­fair.

TIA puts for­ward road net­work based on TM and de­vel­oper’s plans

The tun­nel was found to be the best so­lu­tion for the traf­fic is­sues in the Traf­fic Im­pact Assess­ment (TIA) for the project, which cov­ered a ra­dius of 3km, rather than the widen­ing of roads (due to the neg­a­tive ef­fects it would have on Na­ture 2000 sites) or other al­ter­na­tives.

The tun­nel would start near the de­vel­op­ment and mostly pass un­der an ex­ist­ing road (Mediter­ranean Street) and join a planned road, which will be near the Chi­nese Em­bassy, con­nect­ing Pem­broke and the Coast Road.

It is be­lieved that a round­about and a fly­over will be con­structed over the in­fa­mous junc­tion with Suf­folk Street, con­nect­ing to the TEN-T com­pre­hen­sive net­work along Triq San An­drija (be­tween Paceville and l-Ibrag traf­fic sig­nal junc­tions).

In the re­port, TM said that it “is fully cog­nizant of the fact that this sec­tion of TEN-T road net­work will clearly be­come a ma­jor traf­fic bot­tle­neck by 2025 un­less ma­jor road im­prove­ments are car­ried out in the area”.

In fact, the TIA has put for­ward a road net­work based on both TM and the de­vel­oper’s plans, pos­si­bly hint­ing at a joint ven­ture.

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