Freight movements in urban areas can leave environmental impacts such as pollution.
A number of stakeholders, including representatives from Transport Malta and freight industry professionals exchanged ideas during the C-Liege roundtable meeting on how to best promote actions aimed at developing a more sustainable transport system in Malta, with a special emphasis on urban freight transport.
The discussion formed part of the C-Liege Project, co-financed by the Intelligent Energy Europe Programme, whose main objective is to research and propose a number of best practices which help to reduce pollution from urban traffic.
The project aims to enhance energy efficiency in cities by integrated demand management in transport and transferibility of good practices/lessons learnt among EU key players, eventually setting a criteria to improve the sustainability of transport policies promoting energy efficient and cleaner freight movements in urban areas.
The European relevance of the C-Liege approach is ensured through pilot studies in seven validation sites within six EU countries: Bulgaria, Italy, Poland, UK, Germany and Malta. The results of the pilot project will then be evaluated and eventually applied. Malta is being represented by Paragon Europe (Malta).
Transport is also responsible for a large share of urban air pollution And road freight vehicles in an urban environment usually emit a greater proportion of certain pollutants per kilometre than other motor vehicles such as cars and motorcycles, and their fuel consumption is higher per unit of distance travelled besides the fact that many of them use high-carbon intensive fuel.
This year the number of motor vehicles in Malta went up by 2.4 % compared to 2011 reaching a fleet of 313,027 units, of which 13% is represented by freight vehicles.
According to Quentin Zahra, who possesses more than a solid background in freight, "urban freight transport at times competes with other forms of urban transportation. This reduces efficiency levels for both freight operators and commuters, as well as exposes the environment to higher pollution levels as congestion increases as a result of such inefficiencies".
Furthermore, Zahra referred to the incidents which occurred in Aldo Moro Street, Marsa where a trailer carrying an excavator collided with a foot bridge, damaging the bridge in the process and leading to a tail-back in traffic earlier this year. People had missed flights while students had missed examinations in the process. Another incident was that of a lorry which overturned in Marsa also and which caused havoc.
Zahra added that the country couldn't come to a halt due to such incidents and urged for further research and all stakeholders to come together to establish a strategy to mitigate such scenarios more efficiently.
Zahra also emphasised that trucks, such as rubbish collectors, were working during peak hours (8am) as well, endangering pedestrians in the process because the trucks used to collect rubbish were too wide to pass through certain side streets and were partially having to drive on pavements to manoeuvre through narrow roads while also creating traffic congestion.
Meanwhile, Transport Malta architect Audrey Testaferrata de Noto said that TM was working on a project to address in real time what was taking place on our roads through a control room equipped with a number of CCTV cameras.
"This project will help evaluate in real time a situation which may occur in junctions that are susceptible to traffic problems including road closures, floods, and accidents. Optimisation of traffic light signals and planned roadworks will also be dealt with.
"The control centre will in turn relay alternative route messages through the media, Smartphone apps and VMSes, to avoid congestions in these areas when any of the above-mentioned issues arise," Testaferrata de Noto said.
Unlike past C-Liege meetings, there were no police officials present for yesterday's meeting.