[WATCH] Road-widening excavation in Luqa begins despite pending appeal

Moviment Graffitti and owners protest ongoing roadworks, while planning appeal is still ongoing

Footage shows the excavation works ongoing on Saturday morning (Photos: Moviment Graffitti)
Footage shows the excavation works ongoing on Saturday morning (Photos: Moviment Graffitti)

Updated at 5:30pm with PN statement

Moviment Graffitti published footage online on Saturday morning of excavation works in a private field at Triq il-Kunsill tal-Ewropa in Luqa, alleging they were illegal works carried out by a governemnt agency

“The destruction of agriculture land by the Transport Ministry continues, after for the past three years it had taken large pieces of land from farmers and paved it with tarmac,” Graffiti said.

The NGO said the contractor had no official documentation in hand, and broke the law by entering the land, emphasising that this was only two days after the Ombudsman confirmed Infrastracture Malta broke the farmers' rights, when they initiated roadworks five months before authorisation by Transport Malta was given.

“Despite the report which clearly states that the government agencies are not above the law, Frederick Azzopardi’s men still chose the arrogant way,” Graffitti said.

MaltaToday spoke to Ingram Bondin, who was present on site and is one of the land owners. He said early on Saturday morning, “futile” road widening excavation for an underpass were initiated, although the permit is still under appeal.

“They applied for a road widening project and Planning Authority granted the permit. The association appealed and we asked for a three-month suspension of the works. This suspension was not granted by the tribunal, however the appeal is still ongoing,” Bondin said.

“Since the appeal is still ongoing, the works will prejudicate the case. This is a fail by the tribunal - it is already wrong the such suspensions are only for a short term. The way the tribunal works is broken and the public authorities are acting like cowboys.”

We also spoke to another land owner, Andrew Costa who submitted the appeal the Planning Authority. He informed that a hearing is due on 22 February.

“Today the contractors came and entered the property adjacent to ours and started the road works. This underpass is a useless exercise, as there are no traffic issues in the area. According the plans we have seen, a cycle lane is also planned, however this could easily be diverted towards the side road leading to Gudja,” Costa said.

He emphasised that a road widening in the area had already occurred some ten years ago. “The fields have been in our family since 1913 and are worked to this day.”

Police called on site, contractors hand Infrastracture Malta 'note'

MaltaToday is informed that police were called on site late in the morning to assess the situation. Accoring to sources, the contractors could not provide any expropriation notice but handed a note from Infrastacture Malta, allowing for works to proceed on Saturday.

"The police were indicisive but very gentle about the whole issued, and tried to bring the situation under control. Works slowed down at around 11am but it looks like they will pick up again later," Ingram said.

Excavation works continued later in the afternoon (Photo: Ingram Bondin)
Excavation works continued later in the afternoon (Photo: Ingram Bondin)

We can confirm that roadworks picked up once again later in the afternoon, as evidenced by pictures received by this newsroom.

'Government does not care about farmers and angricultural land' - PN

In a statement, PN remarked how Infrastructure Malta “once again” took over private agricultural land to the detriment of farmers, without the necessary permits.

“This was all carried out with the blessing of Minister Ian Borg, responsible for the same agency and Minister Aaron Farrugia, responsible for the Planning Authority and the Environment. This confirms how the Government does not care about the farmers, and the agricultural land, which many farmers are losing in court,” Pn stated.

It highlighted how Infrastructure Malta was found guilty by the Ombudsman of breaking the law and causing irreparable damage to the country’s environment.

“Although the Opposition acknowledges infrastructural projects are needed for the country, a Nationalist Government promises to respect procedures established by the laws of the country.”