Malta Independent

When it rains, it floods


It happens anywhere in the world that, when it rains heavily, there is unexpected flooding. Often this is also coupled by avalanches which, as happened over the weekend on the Italian island of Ischia, could be deadly. With climate change, such heavy downpours have become more frequent, and we should expect more of them.

In Malta, it happens every time it rains, whether it’s mild precipitat­ion or torrential. But it seems that we have done very little, if anything at all, to avoid the disruption that rain causes to traffic, given that each time it rains the roads are flooded.

And it does not only happen in the notorious low-lying areas. It still happens there, and it has probably become worse than it was some time ago, but it happens almost everywhere that storm-water accumulate­s in our roads, inevitably leading to chaos, as well as danger.

We have done something wrong over the last 5060 years to get to this point. And we are mentioning a timeframe so as not to come across as wanting to blame just this administra­tion, or the current minister responsibl­e for the infrastruc­ture, who has been in office for just eight months. We are putting the responsibi­lity on both the Nationalis­t and Labour government­s who gave little thought to the adverse effects of rain when building new roads or widening others.

Many big projects were undertaken in the past decades to improve the road network. Given the increase in the number of cars that we experience­d – and continue to experience – many of them were necessary. But in the haste to meet with the demand, the roads that have been constructe­d do not cater for times when it rains.

If we’re told that, yes, attention was given to this aspect, then it is clear that this “attention” was not enough and that, yes, we can speak of a failure.

What has made matters worse is that, over many years, we have continued to build in areas where we should not have built, and this has meant that the natural flow of the water was disrupted, and now it is channellin­g itself into the main road arteries.

There should have been a better focus on how the problem of rainwater should have been tackled. Maybe there are some adjustment­s that could be made to lessen the disruption in roads that have already been built.

But we should certainly learn from these mistakes so as not to repeat them in future projects. And one big plan that is on the cards is that of Msida Creek, a place that is always flooded each time it rains. The government is now planning a mega-project that is intended to improve the traffic flow in this busy area.

We have been told that planners for the new project have taken this into account, and that the plan includes an undergroun­d storm-water system that is aimed to alleviate the flooding problem.

We will have to wait and see if these plans will work. We hope that they will.

 ?? ?? A shepherd pets a camel in Doha, Qatar, yesterday. Photo: Alessandra Tarantino/AP
A shepherd pets a camel in Doha, Qatar, yesterday. Photo: Alessandra Tarantino/AP

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