Back to the stone age

The answer to our infrastructural woes are not going to be climate change agencies but action and decision-making based on the premise  that this small island nation has limitations and a saturation point

The town of Naxxar once an authentic and cute town, now a sprawling conurbation of apartments and complexes, could easily stand as one of the more attractive places to live in.   

But Naxxar this week was not the place to be after days of no electricity and water you could have well chosen hell as your home.   

I live in Naxxar and the experience of no water to flush the toilets, to shower and no electricity to cook or switch a fan or airconditioning system on, is more than a simple bother. More so when the mercury was hitting 42C for a whole week. 

Seven days of inferno and it is surprising that people did not walk into the streets and turn onto public officials and pelt eggs at them. 

There is no doubt that the extreme heat conditions were no help to this crisis, but the reason that modern towns like Naxxar suffered a breakdown and not others was because of Enemalta’s and the government’s uselessness. And that is being kind.   

By incompetence I mean works, upgrades and maintenance linked to the distribution system were simply not happening.  

After all the grief families passed through, not one head rolled, not one person offered to resign.   

We were told on the very first day of the crisis that Enemalta has enough energy to meet the unexpected demand.  What they did not say is that the distribution system was antique, out of date and could not keep up with a sudden spike.    

Why we should be told this now is beyond me. 

That was Enemalta’s version. The other side to the story was a government perspective, or shall I say a Robert Abela world view.  Abela avoided discussing the fact that the rate of growth in the country was unsustainable, based on flimsy infrastructure and void of any planning. 

The strain on water supply, sewage systems and electrical distribution has grown to such an extent that the old structures in place are unable to handle the immense demand. What happened was simply inevitable. 

This was a veritable example of lack of vision, lack of planning leading to such a disastrous scenario. 

In recent years hamlets of low-lying maisonettes were suddenly dwarfed and besieged by endless apartments and huge complexes and yet few of the utilities were appropriately upgraded.    

As a consequence of our greed to put growth before everything else and at all costs we have made this country dependant on brittle infrastructure. 

And let us face it, this is not because of the malaise of today’s politicians but of all the political parties and business communities who have governed and pillaged from this country, foremost the construction industry that has been hell bent on building every nook and cranny. The construction lobby has always had the ear of the political class. 

The funny twist to all this was the announcement of a climate change agency, only to discover that some 15 years ago, the same proposal had been brokered by a consultant.   

The truth is that the answer to our infrastructural woes are not going to be climate change agencies but action and decision-making based on the premise that this small island nation has limitations and a saturation point.   

Climate change agencies sound nice and robust initiatives but they are, in our context, exercises in tokenism. 

We cannot continue growing as we have been expected to grow.  We need to put thresholds to the amount of roads, cars, type of cars, energy consumption, construction and yes resident population and tourists (by introducing a moratorium on hotels and tourist accommodation). 

We are what we are; an inconsequential small Island contending to be a nation. We could easily stand as an extension of a province in Sicily. 

And let us accept the fact that every contribution we will make to reduce our carbon footprint in Malta will do little to change the fate of this planet but quite a lot in making us content and proud to have done something positive and correct. 

Some people call it altruism others call it an obligation. 

The Malta Federation of Professional Associations has balked at news of a 40% fail rate in O-levels among over 4,000 students who sat for the core subjects Maltese, Maths, and English. 

At last, someone is talking.   

Could it be that the syllabus and level required by the MATSEC Board is far too demanding and bold? Or should I say that the MATSEC board are living in cuckoo land.  That should be at the core of any investigation into why this is happening. 

Someone needs to realise that those at University are very often completely oblivious to what is happening at secondary school level and the rest of the country. 

Sinead O’Connor was a punk, counter-culture hero, and growing up with the snapshots of her anti-establishment moments take me back to the very difficult eighties and early nineties. 

She was what every activist aspired to become: irreverent and controversial. Farewell, Sinead.