GRTU: Traffic situation ‘unbearable and unacceptable’

Malta Chamber of SMEs says traffic crisis needs immediate action as profitability and competitiveness are being hit

The traffic situation has become unbearable and unacceptable, the GRTU Malta Chamber of SMEs said, adding that it has been inundated by members’ concerns about what it termed as a crisis.

In a statement issued on Saturday, the GRTU said the alarming situation is not just one of frustration and tardiness, but profitability and competitiveness.

In a harshly worded statement, the chamber said “justifications related to infrastructure and discussing long-term possibilities have long expired.” Noting that its members have invested time and resources to consult, discuss and put forward proposals to the authorities responsible for transport and traffic management, the GRTU said “proposals that have time and time again been left on the shelf. GRTU’s approach was always to discuss around the table but this has not achieved anything close to desired results of improvement.”

While saying that it will address the matter immediately directly with the Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, the chamber said that the crisis is affecting business across the board and the lack of effective planning and effective implementation are resulting” in each and every one of us paying the price.”

“Chauffeur-driven transport is choosing not to operate during specific peak times, transport and delivery costs are plummeting due to inefficiencies caused by heavy traffic, customers are giving up driving to go shopping, and workers are becoming less efficient per day of work due to time wasted in traffic.”

In a veiled criticism of transport minister Joe Mizzi’s call for patience, the GRTU said “the expectation for drivers and businesses to be patient with the traffic situation and accept the status quo should not even be considered. Tangible actions need to be taken imminently.”

Calling on the authorities to take immediate action, the GRTU made a number of proposals to alleviate the traffic crisis, including free transport for all schools, organised transport for all government employees and immediate outlay of incentives for employers to organise private collective transport for their own workers. 

It also proposed an overhaul in the local enforcement system, and said that wardens and Transport Malta officials should work in tandem with traffic police.

The GRTU said the aim of giving out fines needs to be completely and irreversibly replaced with coordinating and assisting traffic at all times, especially during peak traffic.

The chamber added that emergency teams need to be closer to peak areas to immediately address any traffic accidents with minimum impact on flow of traffic.

Moreover, the GRTU said projects such as the Kappara Junction Project need to have works undertaken round-the-clock “without further excuses.”

“This project is a major burden on traffic and every hour wasted from its completion is a disservice to the country. There is so much work that can be undertaken during the night and weekends to reduce the overall detailed project timeplan, which to date has not yet been provided to GRTU.”
GRTU has been pushing for under-utilised areas to be used as park and ride zones offering key parking areas and shuttle service towards hub areas, such as the Gzira Stadium. Car Park development need to be incentivised and given priority and Planning Authority level. 

The GRTU also proposed tele-working, pointing out that government should lead by example.
“Departments across the board need to imminently adapt a work-from-home approach during specific hours and staggering working times of employees. It cannot be sustainable for everyone to drive towards Valletta at the same time because this is what has always been done.”