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Someone is bullying Malta to refrain from doing what everybody in Malta agrees upon. I ‘suspect’ it must be Uncle Sam

In the last week, just before Saturday’s elections, Transport Malta requested cab operators of ride-hailing cabs - such as Bolt, eCabs and Uber - to roll out geofencing technology, a measure to prevent their cabs from waiting for bookings in certain areas. Anyone who thinks the timing was just a coincidence is incredibly naive.

This measure forbids Y-plate cabs from waiting for bookings within 100 metres of White Taxi stands and 15 metres from bus stops.

The new regulation also forbids Y-plate cabs from waiting for booking waiting and accepting rides outside the Phoenicia Hotel in Floriana and within 250 metres of the Malta International Airport, Valletta cruise port or other ferry landings.

A spokesman for one of the cab companies operating in Malta reacted by telling the Times of Malta that if the authorities choose to enforce this law, they will effectively kill the whole cab industry in Malta, adding that he could not imagine a scenario where it will be feasible for drivers to operate in such a heavily restricted market.

The spokesperson insisted that consumers and drivers will be worse off if the geofencing measure is implemented, arguing that the measure will increase driving time and fuel consumption, besides providing fewer opportunities to get orders.

He claimed the measure will also cause more congestion, as drivers will start flocking to the hot spots where they can get orders, giving the example of a cab dropping off a passenger outside the Airport, having to leave the area before accepting a ride even if another passenger is trying to book a ride from the airport terminal.

We have a traffic problem in Malta and the governemnt is incredibly bowing down to pressure from taxi drivers by introducing a system that will further exacerbate our traffic problems.

Transport Malta claims that geofencing has been adopted in several other countries and clients can still reserve Y-plate vehicles from within the designated geofenced area.

But the measure ignores the issue of whether White Taxis would be able to cope with the large number of tourists and people in certain hotspots, such as the airport. It will increase traffic congestion and pollution while making cab services less efficient and costlier to the end user.

But the vote of taxi drivers takes precedence over all other considerations, of course.

This is a clear example of the government bowing to the pressure of a group of people at the expense of the interest of the common citizen, because it needs their vote in the elections.

How will the governemnt act in the lead to the Maltese general election? It must be a litany of giving minorities the right to trample over the rights of the majority of citizens.

By now, we all must realise that the common good is nowhere found in the electoral register and hence has no vote!

It is individuals who vote and all individuals have their pecadillos which they think are the most important issues in the universe.

This is the great conundrum of democracy. Sometimes a country needs some bitter medicine to assure a better future and for the government of the day to survive, it needs the support of the majority of those who have to take the bitter medicine. This conundrum is normally solved by government dishing out the bitter medicine in the early days of a legislature and leaving the goodies to be distributed later when it has to face the music in an election. Alfred Sant fell foul of this ‘rule’ when he called an early election in 1998. The rest is history.

Robert Abela is many times percieved as acting as if his governmnet is permanently in election mode...

So last Saturday - yesterday - the taxi drivers must have all voted Labour in gratitude for the unearned privilege that the government had given them in the last few days.

And so it goes on...

Why worry about Malta’s placing in the Eurovision Song Festival when ‘Taxi Mary’ continually steals the show!


Recognition of Palestine

The recognition of the Palestinian state is one issue about which the two main Maltese parties have no qualms... or so many believed.

The issue was brought up by PN leader Bernard Grech in the televised polical debate last Wednesday as he was rebutting the ridiculous claims that the PN is intent on sending people to war.

Grech insisted that the Maltese government had the opportunity to recognise Palestine as a state, but it did not, saying one thing and doing another.

In March, Malta was among the signatories of a joint statement with other European countries which said they were ready to recognise Palestine as a state. However, when Spain, Norway and Ireland moved ahead with those plans, Malta was conspicuously absent.

Abela said he wants to see a ceasefire and peace in the region but he did not rebut the criticism of the government’s failure to recognise Palestine.

Someone is bullying Malta to refrain from doing what everybody in Malta agrees upon. I ‘suspect’ it must be Uncle Sam.

And Robert Abela’s government is proving to be the most servile US bootlicker in the country’s history.

Broadcasting blues

A political advert of Norman Lowell’s extreme right Imperium Europa showed broadcasting personality, Peppi Azzopardi, apparently agreeing with the far-right candidate for the European Parliament elections.

But Azzopardi in a Facebook post said that nothing could be further from the truth and his comments had been extracted from an interview where he was explaining how some people could be mistakenly backing Lowell. He insisted that his comments had been manipulated to mean the direct opposite.

Azzopardi claimed that people had been phoning him, incredulous at how he could agree with Lowell. This advert was being broadcast on TVM, leading Azzopardi to wonder what had become of the Broadcasting Authority (BA) and whether it was backing Lowell.

In response the BA, quoted the relevant law regulating electoral broadcasts and insisted that the advert was not illegal.

Quoting people – especially political opponents – out of context is a standard trick in political broadcasts all over the world. One can hardly try to control this abuse.

But should not the Broadcasting Authority have given the right of reply to Peppi Azzopardi who is not contesting the EP election?

That is the least it could do, rather than shaking off his protests, as if it couldn’t care less.