Roads flooded, traffic jammed: we took our questions to Infrastructure Malta boss

We asked Infrastructure Malta head Fredrick Azzopardi to explain why major flooding occurred in some of the major roads in Marsa, Pembroke and Rabat

Heavy flooding was reported in a number of areas around Malta and Gozo
Heavy flooding was reported in a number of areas around Malta and Gozo

Social media news feeds were taken over by photos of flooded roads and traffic jams as torrential rain swept over the Maltese islands over the past two days.

In the last 24 hours alone, the country recorded 45.3mm of rain, according to Malta International Airport’s Meteorological Office.

MaltaToday spoke to Infrastructure Malta CEO Fredrick Azzopardi to seek some answers for some of the flooding which occurred in main roads across Malta.

READ ALSO: 'I'm okay with the criticism,' says minister after flooded roads

Borg Olivier street in Rabat
Borg Olivier street in Rabat

Newly rebuilt Triq Gorg Borg Olivier Street, Rabat

Case: A photo of rain water flowing at right angles with a drainage grill in Triq Gorg Borg Olivier, Rabat made the rounds on Monday evening. The road has been recently resurfaced for a second time, after standards were not met by the contractor in charge of the project.

"This week, we ordered our contractors to resurface Gorg Borg Olivier Street in Rabat. The reconstruction of this street was completed last month but its new surface did not reach our quality standards. The contractors removed the defective surface and are laying new asphalt today, at their own expense," Infrastructure Minister Ian Borg said in January.

But despite the resurfacing, photos show that works were not up to standard once again.

Azzopardi: "In some instances, irregularities do not show up immediately. The contractor in question has been contacted and will be carrying out remedial works in the coming days."

Asked if the contractor would be fined for incompetence, given this will be the third time works will be carried out, Azzopardi said that all expenses related will be forked out by the contractor.

"Contractors are bound by a five-year guarantee to ensure standards are kept on newly rebuilt roads."

Ground level flooding beneath Marsa flyovers
Ground level flooding beneath Marsa flyovers

New Marsa flyover project

Case: Videos emerged of flooding on the ground level section of the new Marsa flyover. Cars travelling from Paola onto Marsa had to pass through water that reached half-way up the vehicles.

Azzopardi: "The project is still at construction phase, and so the necessary drainage systems have not been installed. The area where flooding occurred is a temporary diversion, with Infrastructure Malta looking to restart works as soon as possible."

Works on the area have been temporarily halted, after a number of workers tested positive for COVID-19.

Flooding on 13 December Road caused massive traffic jams in the area
Flooding on 13 December Road caused massive traffic jams in the area

13 December Road, Marsa

Case: Marsa’s 13 December Road was heavily flooded on both lanes, jamming traffic for hours all the way to Valletta and Msida. No recent works were carried out in this area.

Azzopardi: "Flooding must have occurred due to the build-up of debris in the rain tunnels. The area will be kept under check to ensure that no blocking will occur."

A temporary opening has been created to allow water on the St Andrews-Paceville road drain into the valley
A temporary opening has been created to allow water on the St Andrews-Paceville road drain into the valley

Pembroke-St Andrews

Case: The road leading from Paceville to Swieqi also experienced heavy flooding, causing motorists to slow down and creating traffic jams in the area.

Azzopardi: "The area has been prone to flooding for years, given its location at the bottom of a natural valley. A temporary hole has been opened into the retaining wall to allow for rain water to drain into the valley. This is a temporary measure, with the area forming part of a holistic Paceville road masterplan that has been submitted to the Planning Authority."

One of the flood relief tunnels starts at Attard and emerges in Ta' Xbiex
One of the flood relief tunnels starts at Attard and emerges in Ta' Xbiex

Storm water tunnel System

Case: A few years back Malta invested millions in the construction of large tunnels to collect storm water run-off and have it deposited in the sea. One such tunnel starts in the outskirts of Attard and proceeds beneath Balzan, Birkirkara, Msida and Ta' Xbiex, where it emerges into the sea. Yet, despite this tunnel, some roads in the mentioned areas still experienced flooding.

Azzopardi: "The maintenance of the storm water tunnels is not part of Infrastructure Malta’s remit. However, all new projects being built by Infrastructure Malta in the area will be linked to the existing tunnel systems. The new Central Link project in the area of Attard has been designed in such a manner to link up to this storm water tunnel."

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