[WATCH] Central Link project goes against government's own transport master plan, AD says

Large-scale roads project in central Malta won’t solve traffic problem, Alternattiva Demokratika chairman Carmel Cacopardo emphasised

An substantial area of agricultural land in Attard will have to be destroyed for the new roads to go through
An substantial area of agricultural land in Attard will have to be destroyed for the new roads to go through
Carmel Cacopardo: Road projects are ignoring transport masterplan

The planned Central Link project will ruin the environment and goes against the government's own transport master plan, Carmel Cacopardo has said.

Speaking at a press conference in Attard this morning, the Alternattiva Demokratika chairman said he would, for a number of reasons, be presenting a formal objection to the project.

The local plan for Attard did not provide for a bypass to pass through it, Cacopardo said, and the current side road system in the area was only meant to serve local residents. The project will also lead to a substantial area of irrigated land being lost forever, he said..

“Agricultural land will be completely done away with for the new roads to take its place, putting in jeopardy the livelihood of a number of farmers and their families,” he underscored.

The project itself does not comply with the 2025 Transport Master Plan, he said, highlighting that the government was contradicting itself when on the one hand it tried to promote the agricultural sector, and on the other it was ruining the future of agriculture on the island.

"The master plan has the aim of reducing car use on Malta's roads. The government is not adhering to the strategy which it drew up itself - its plan emphasises the need to reduce the social, environmental and economic impact of the large number of cars in urban zones. The project will do the opposite of this," he stressed.

“We are opening our roads up for more traffic instead of really addressing the problem,” he remarked, “This policy is akin to a fat man buying a bigger pair of pants instead of going on a diet.”

Attard residents' group against project

Attard Residents Environmental Network representative Stephen Pace said the project would entail that a road be constructed across an area of Attard, which, apart from being home to metres of agricultural land, also has strong links to the history of the town and is part of its cultural and historical patrimony.

“AREN says no to the way in which the government went about this project. There has been a lack of planning and a lack of consultation, and it will lead to the biggest environmental disaster of the past years,” he said, “But all this can be avoided if the Transport Minister Ian Borg lends us an ear and seriously considers the alternatives we are proposing.”

“Our proposals can be put into effect immediately and do not necessitate any substantial changes to the existing infrastructure. They will certainly be of benefit to drivers passing through central Attard and its surrounding areas.”

AREN, Pace said, was noting with satisfaction that the transport minister was acknowledging that there were serious coordination problems when it came to the project’s planning. “What is taking place at the moment is a game involving people’s lives and the health of Attard’s residents,” he said.

He added that AREN were encouraging Borg to grab the bull by its horns and address the problem by ensuring somebody competent is leading the project. “He should not continue to permit that persons who clearly have a hidden agend keep taking him in the wrong direction - one which is detrimental to people’s health and to the environment,” he added.