Labour’s €700 million roads project: 170 residential roads in first three years

A new agency will be set up to coordinate the road works • No less than 60 roads will be done every year during the first three years of the project

Local councils will be pushed to meet new standards – such as repairing potholes within 24 hours.
Local councils will be pushed to meet new standards – such as repairing potholes within 24 hours.

Between 2013 and 2017, €133 million were spent over 159 km, resurfacing 424 roads. By increasing the annual budget allocated for the works fivefold for the next seven years, the Labour Party forecasts that it will be able to resurface all of Malta’s and Gozo’s roads.

The €700 million would be allocated over and above capital expenditure required for projects like the Marsa junction. Whilst no funds will be deducted from budgets allocated to local councils, they will be responsible from the continuous maintenance of the urban roads in their locality. Maintenance work will be carried out through public-private partnerships and following specific key performance indicators.

Local councils will however be pushed to meet new standards – such as repairing potholes within 24 hours.

An agency specifically tasked with monitoring road maintenance will be set up. It will be focused on coordinating work and deciding who does what, where and when, bringing in line works, that would also require the intervention of the Water Services Corporation.

A second agency will be responsible from the general cleaning and upkeep of the country.

Another part of the project would see the removal of electrical cables attached to house facades, which will be passed underground.

Addressing a press conference in Birkirkara, Labour leader Joseph Muscat laid out the roads resurfacing plan that would be put in place, if the Labour government were to be re-elected for a second term.

Present for the press conference were also Finance Minister Edward Scicluna, Economy Ministry Chris Cardona, Transport Minister Joe Mizzi and Tourism Edward Zammit Lewis.

According to Muscat, the €700 million estimate is derived from calculations by Transport Malta, based on its experience in the recent years.

“We studied what we were able to do with an annual €20 million budget. If we retain this pace, it will take 28 years to do all of Malta’s roads and the country certainly cannot wait that long. Doing it over a period of seven years is feasible so we would go for a fivefold increase in the annual budget.”

 The funds would come from EU funds, the National Development Bank, the Social Fund (IIP), other financial instruments such as the European Investment Bank, private finance initiatives and PPPs.

Parking would remain for free whilst no road tolls will be introduced.

The main challenge, Muscat explained, is the management of roads which is scattered. Moreover, local councils were still paying road works carried out seven years ago following a PPP that was launched under the previous administration.

A second issue, Muscat added, was that Transport Malta’s budgetary system does not allow for long-term planning, but is held back by the year-on-year planning.

If the Labour government is re-elected, priority will be given to 170 residential roads during the first three years, with no less than 60 roads done every year.