On transport, heads should roll

Mizzi micromanages and is unable to look at the bigger picture. He’s alarmingly short of substance and unable to think outside the box

Transport minister Joe Mizzi. (Photo: Ray Attard)
Transport minister Joe Mizzi. (Photo: Ray Attard)

It was a terrible week for Transport Minister Joe Mizzi. The first rain resulted in a traffic gridlock. As expected, he blamed the weather. On Monday morning, chaos reigned on our arterial roads. Mizzi couldn’t blame it on the weather again. Instead, he went abroad, on ‘government business’. The following day, his Prime Minister accepted a request by the Opposition to hold a Parliamentary debate on traffic, despite Mizzi’s absence.

The Prime Minister probably thought that having Joe Mizzi present for the debate would have caused further damage, and embarrassment to his government. Either that or the Prime Minister has decided that Mr Mizzi is on his way out.

Successive PN and PL administrations are to blame for Malta’s traffic crisis. They failed to plan ahead, and they failed to think outside the box. However, Joe Mizzi and his Prime Minister gave the impression, pre-2013, that they had an immediate solution to the daily gridlock on our roads. Three years later, we are reminded, every single day that they have failed miserably.

Needed: Competent people

Joe Mizzi’s resignation won’t solve Malta’s traffic nightmare, but he’s definitely a problem not a solution. Mizzi micromanages and is unable to look at the bigger picture. He’s alarmingly short of substance and unable to think outside the box. Malta needs competent people within the Transport Ministry and at Transport Malta to chart the way forward, look at the bigger picture and be able to think outside the box.

Think outside the box

Trade unions, NGOs and leading entrepreneurs proposed a number of ideas and alternatives for Malta’s traffic crisis. However, there is little, if any, thinking outside the box. Thousands of people drive to their workplace to spend the day working on their office computer, when they can easily do that from home.

Should employers encourage their employees to work from home, and give them incentives to do that – with support from the government, the daily gridlock on our roads would decrease significantly and people get to spend more time with their families.

People arriving late at work – and already stressed out having been caught in traffic for an hour or more, has a huge impact of their health, productivity, and it affects the working relationship with their colleagues.

Simon Busuttil’s suggestion for government to provide free transport for independent and church schools makes sense and instead of pouring cold water over it, government should have implemented it immediately. It’s been a year since that proposal was made. Now we learn that government is considering it.

Delivery time to shops and businesses too needs to be looked into, as is the presence of heavy vehicles on our roads at peak travel time. Tough decisions need to be taken. Changes to our life styles need to be made. If not, the current traffic crisis will only get worse – at a huge cost to our economy and our health.

The budget

The economy is doing well. It is continuing to register steady growth. Unemployment too is going down. Increasing the government workforce is not, however, the solution. That’s a concern for taxpayers. They have to foot the additional bill. In tomorrow’s budget, taxpayers expect government to announce measures to ensure further sustainable growth. Not at their expense.

The wealth being generated has to trickle down, to be enjoyed by all. The previous PN administration generated wealth, despite an international financial meltdown. But the wealth generated failed to trickle down to be enjoyed by all. The result was 2013 – despite other reasons, of course.


The Prime Minister refuses to lower fuel prices, even though the price of oil is at an all-time low. To do so, Dr Muscat argues, would encourage people to use their cars further. That, the PM warns, would result in in further traffic on our roads. That’s absolute nonsense. Lower energy, and fuels prices, translates into higher spending power, as Muscat used to argue, pre-2013, when the price of oil was at an all-time high.

The traffic gridlock can only be addressed through short and long-term strategies, which his minister and their political appointees at Transport Malta are unable to put in place.

Joseph can no longer ignore Simon

Joseph Muscat can no longer ignore Simon Busuttil. Not that he ever did. The latest MaltaToday survey shows the gap between the two leaders, and between parties, to be at an all-time low. The Prime Minister still enjoys a comfortable lead over his counterpart. But he’s no longer making inroads with middle-of-the road voters and ‘switchers’. They were crucial for his massive victory in 2013.

The writing was on the wall and Muscat has only himself to blame. Having won the 2013 election with an outstanding majority and with the economy doing well, the Prime Minister’s trust ratings should be at a record high. Not so, his first three years at the helm were riddled with serious accusations of corruption. We’ve lost count of the blatant appointments of Labour party cronies within the public sector. Which explain the findings of the MaltaToday survey.

Smart move

For the first time ever for any Opposition in Malta, the Nationalist Party published a pre-budget document. That was a smart move. Busuttil can longer be accused of keeping his cards close to his chest. Mid-term, he proposed a number of ideas and alternatives for sustainable growth. Busuttil’s proposals shall, most probably, be ignored in tomorrow’s budget. That would be another strategic mistake by the Muscat administration. Muscat should have embraced most Busuttil’s proposals, and pledged that not only will it take them on board, but do even better. Instead, Muscat and his finance minister rubbished the PN’s proposals.

About time too

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has, finally, admitted that the Dublin Regulations are ‘obsolete’. It took her, and her counterparts’ years to acknowledge what countries, at Europe’s external borders, including Malta have long argued. Which demonstrates Europe’s failure on the irregular movement of people from the Horn of Africa and war-torn countries in the Middle East.

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