Almost 30 Transport Malta inspections carried out at Mgarr fatal accident site since works started
Almost 30 inspections have been carried out by Transport Malta at the site of last weekend’s tragic fatal accident in Mgarr since road works there commenced, a spokesperson for Transport Malta told The Malta Independent.
Just under a week ago, tragedy rocked the island after two women, Graziella Mallia and her daughter Fallon Mallia, were killed in a headon car crash which left a further seven people injured and which is the worst traffic accident to take place this year.
The accident occurred in the limits of Mgarr, at the beginning of Triq Sir Temi Zammit, a road which connects to a busy roundabout. That roundabout connects Mgarr to Mosta along with the much used Triq Buqana and Triq Ta’ Zejfa.
It saw one car, the Maruti carrying the two victims and a number of other passengers, mount the centre-strip and the other, an Audi A1, slide into a ditch which will soon turn into the extension to the road.
Road works have been ongoing for a number of months, with a new lane being created on one side of the much used thoroughfare.
It was, however, observed both on the night of the accident and the morning after that the area lacks signage advising drivers that they are approaching an area where there are road works and that there was a similar lack of lighting to illuminate the area. Furthermore, the barriers segregating the existing road from the part of the road that is under construction are plastic ones which were partially filled with water.
This newsroom sent questions to Transport Malta, asking about the apparent lack of safety features in the area, what safety measures contractors are obliged to follow while conducting works, and what enforcement and sanctions – if any – Transport Malta had carried out at this specific site.
A spokesperson for Transport Malta explained that the conditions laid out upon issuance of the permits depend on the works being carried out.
“They range from when works should start, giving access to vehicular traffic to giving access to render a service or to residents”, the spokesperson said before adding that, “the conditions are bound to a traffic management plan and include safety measures, signage and plastic barriers.”
“Other conditions safeguard public bus routes, the use of TM enforcement officers and the possibility of complete road closures,” the spokesperson said, and they cover the eventuality of having concurrent road works, major events and indemnity for any damage to the road or third party.
The spokesperson said that Transport Malta officers inspect road work sites regularly to confirm that the contractor is abiding by the set conditions and that, depending on the case, the officers will issue a warning whenever the contractor is in breach of the conditions.
If the contractor then does not rectify the breaches, the spokesperson said, Transport Malta issues fines accordingly.
Speaking with regards to last weekend’s case, the spokesperson said that, “it would be inopportune for Transport Malta to discuss the specific accidents you are referring to, since there are ongoing investigations by inquiring magistrates.”
The spokesperson however did confirm that since the works at that site commenced, Transport Malta officers had inspected the site close to thirty times and that any difficulties or suggestions highlighted to the project contractors and workers on site were “always immediately implemented”. Last Sunday’s tragic accident was the second at the same site. On Saturday morning a driver lost control of his Ferrari, an act which subsequently led to the sports car taking a dive into the ditch.
It was also the third traffic incident to make the news in that weekend, after a 23 year old German woman was killed when she fell off the motorcycle that she was riding pillion on and was hit by a truck.
The motorcycle’s driver reportedly lost control of the motorbike after he had to swerve to avoid stones and gravel in the road.
Transport Minister Ian Borg however said at a business breakfast on Monday that road works were not to blame for any of the weekend’s accidents, whilst also urging drivers to be more cautious in the roads and to drive safely.
In a post on social media, Borg also, whilst showing solidarity with those affected by Sunday’s accident, accused people of turning such a tragic accident into a political ball-game.
On Monday evening, Borg was asked in Parliament by Labour MP Rosianne Cutajar and the now Independent MP Hermann Schiavone about the safety measures that were being taken with regards to works on Maltese roads, Borg said that the incident had taken place on an existing part of the road and that at this point it was best to err on the side of caution and wait for the outcome of the magisterial inquiry before adding further comments.