[WATCH] Gżira mayor takes developers’ chief Sandro Chetcuti to task over construction cowboys

Gżira mayor Conrad Borg Manche said it made little sense for the Malta Developers’ Association to be generous during l-Istrina and forget the plight of residents all year round • Protest in support of councillor who was almost run over by contractor draws few people

Gżira mayor Conrad Borg Manche
Gżira mayor Conrad Borg Manche
Gżira mayor Conrad Borg Manche

Gżira mayor Conrad Borg Manche has warned developers his council will not stop attacking abuse and urged them to respect residents, during a protest this evening.

The protest in Gżira was called in the wake of an incident in which Nationalist Party councillor Jeremy Cardona was almost run over by a developer last week. The developer was identified as Ivan Stivala, the brother of Malta Developers Association A secretary Michael Stivala.

The MDA had said it would take action against its member if the allegations proved true, adding that it appeared the incident was the result of a personal tiff.

Few residents turned up for the protest, prompting the Labour mayor to express disappointment at the poor turnout despite the numerous complaints received at the council. Gżira has some 130 active construction sites.

Mayors from neighbouring localities, former PN leader Simon Busuttil and MP Karol Aquilina joined the protest in a show of solidarity
Mayors from neighbouring localities, former PN leader Simon Busuttil and MP Karol Aquilina joined the protest in a show of solidarity

The Nationalist mayors of Sliema, Swieqi and St Julians – Anthony Chircop, Noel Muscat and Guido Dalli – turned up for the protest in solidarity.

Borg Manche said the council was in the process of adopting bye-laws to regulate development in the locality. “We will impose fines that will be withdrawn from a sum of money that developers will have to deposit at the bank, and when the deposit runs out we will seek a court injunction to freeze their assets,” the mayor warned.

READ ALSO: Gzira Local Council closes its doors in protest

He appealed to the head of the Malta Developers’ Association Sandro Chetcuti to sit down and discuss a way forward because residents had had enough of the abuse perpetrated on a daily basis by irresponsible contractors.

Few Gżira residents turned up despite the numerous complaints the council receives on a daily basis
Few Gżira residents turned up despite the numerous complaints the council receives on a daily basis

“Sandro Chetcuti’s reaction to the incident was disappointing, to say the least. He implied the incident was the result of a personal feud between the contractor and Jeremy [Cardona]. This is not true and reducing the incident to a personal tiff is wrong,” Borg Manche said, adding the incident was the last straw that broke the camel’s back.

He insisted it made little sense for the MDA to present a cheque of €150,000 to l-Istrina in an attempt to show how generous developers were when residents were disregarded all year round.

He called on developers to show respect towards residents. “We are not against development but those who are earning big money should not do so on the back of the quality of life of residents. A little respect goes a long way to ease the inconvenience.”

PN councillor Jeremy Cardona
PN councillor Jeremy Cardona

Speaking before the mayor, Cardona said the incident was a “heinous attack” but vowed to keep on working for the benefit of Gżira residents.

“I will not be deterred, the situation is out of control but we are here to tell contractors that Gżira does not belong to them; it belongs to us residents,” Cardona said.

He highlighted some of the abuse perpetrated by developers such as closing roads without the necessary permits, allowing uncovered trucks to travel through the locality and obstructing pavements.

“At least from this incident something good has come out because now everyone has stopped to hear the plight of residents,” Cardona said.

The protest was attended among others, by former PN leader Simon Busuttil, PN MP Karol Aquilina, former AD chairperson Arnold Cassola, Graffitti activists, environmental advocate Claire Bonello and Democratic Party deputy leader Timothy Alden.

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