Ħaż-Żebbuġ works have TM permits, agency says after councillor takes lone stand

Independent local councillor Steve Zammit Lupi protests destruction of Hal Mula garden in road-widening works by IM

Steve Zammit Lupi waits patiently to prepare to stop the digger advancing into the garden
Steve Zammit Lupi waits patiently to prepare to stop the digger advancing into the garden

Independent local councillor Steve Zammit Lupi has taken a stand in a lone protest against Infrastructure Malta works being carried out without a permit. 

The lone councillor took his stand as diggers started demolishing the garden at the Hal-Mula housing estate in Haz-Zebbug. The works are being carried to widen Triq il-Fraxxnu. 

When asked by MaltaToday, Zammit Lupi said, “There was no communication from authorities. This is an act of arrogance which is unacceptable. Even though this is government-owned land it is not right to do such a thing.”

Police officers from the RIU were on site to control protesting residents and local councillors on site. “The council was never advised about the works, and when requesting for works to be halted no answer was given back. Residents came out to question what was happening, as they too were never notified of what was happening,” said the councillor.

Moviment Graffitti, one of the NGOs protesting Infrastructure Malta’s modus operandi, said IM chief executive officer Frederick Azzopardi was on site together with RIU officers. “He is using the police to protect him when the officers should be defending citizens from Azzopardi.”

However, in comments to MaltaToday, Infrastructure Malta claimed that works in Il-Fraxxnu Street began earlier this week, through permits obtained from the Transport Malta. TM is a regulator under the same minister holding responsibility for IM, Ian Borg.

IM said that it was contacted by the Zebbug Local Council and residents in 2018, requesting assistance for roadworks which can make Il-Fraxxnu Street more accessible for residents.  

The works are expected to increase road space by approximately 50 square metres. IM claims that residents requested that the road be further widened than initially planned.

IM said that it will only use half of the land allocated for this purpose to which will render it more accessible to residents whilst minimising the impact on a private garden in the adjacent area.

It said the existing boundary wall will be rebuilt in a recessed position, while the rest of the area can be used as a garden, and promised to rebuild any existing structures on this government-owned land that may be affected by the works.

IM also noted that the high boundary wall and tool shed dismantled last Wednesday, were built illegally.

After an enforcement notice was issued, a Planning Authority application for this boundary wall submitted by the person encroaching on this public land was refused in 1996. An appeal against this refusal was rejected as well.” said a spokesperson for IM

“Infrastructure Malta will rebuild the boundary wall at a lower height, as permissible by law, to ensure that the adjacent area can be enjoyed as a public space rather than an enclosed private garden. The illegal tool shed will not be rebuilt.” IM said.

PN statement 

In a statement, the Nationalist Party said on behalf of the residents of the area, it condemned the government's behaviour and encouraged a greater spirit of consultation and information with residents and entities of the locality.

“Only these entities understand exactly the problems and challenges that face the surrounding residents. True consultation means beneficial projects that improve the quality of life of all Maltese and Gozitans,” the PN said.

The PN added that it was unacceptable of government agencies to ignore local councils, as they were able to serve as a guide for Infrastructure Malta on how best to execute the works because they know the town/village and how to deal with residents. 

More in Townscapes