National interest at the heart of Central Link project, Labour MP says

Labour MP Alex Muscat hit back at critics of the Central Link Project, which he said will improve the quality of life of many

The Central Link Project will take about two years to complete
The Central Link Project will take about two years to complete

The Central Link Project will carry on despite grievances from some elements of the Opposition and the media, Labour MP Alex Muscat said, citing national interest and environmental benefits as the prime drives behind the plan.

Muscat, who chairs the Environment and Development Planning Committee, hit out against criticism of the plan, claiming that the project would improve the quality of life of citizens.

“Aspects of the Opposition and the media tried to exasperate with the idea that there will be no trees left in Attard. This is not true… it’s not true that hundreds of trees will be removed,” Muscat said, adding that the figures for trees set to be removed are “going up and down like the lottery” in media reports.

The project is expected to improve the route between the Mriehel bypass in the direction of Birkirkara, Balzan and Attard, going on until the Saqqajja hill roundabout, which connects Ta’ Qali, Attard, Rabat, Zebbug and Mosta. It will see the creation of 7.4km in new lanes.

Read also: €55 million central Malta road project aims to halve travel time, reduce emissions

Speaking during the adjournment in Parliament, Muscat explained that the initial plans for the project included four lanes in Outside Development Zones (ODZ). “This plan was changed and there will be only two lanes in ODZ. The government actually decreased the footprint on ODZ, because existing roads will be used instead.”

The project will cause a decrease in vehicle emissions by 13.5%, and will introduce 19,300 square metres of landscaped land with trees and bushes, Muscat said. An additional 300 trees will be planted, bringing the total to 600, and the waiting time in traffic will be halved to 30,000 every day, he added.

“The impact of traffic on the country cannot be ignored. It is a burden on the economy and costs the country €300 million per year. And more traffic means more pollution,” Muscat said, adding that the country had previously failed to invest enough in road networks. “What we are doing today should have been done long ago, as particular junctions have been planned on paper for years.”

Muscat said that when pressed, the only criticism Nationalist Party deputy leader David Agius could come up with was the fact that the bypass could seize parts of land belonging to farmers.

“I understand this. But in a democracy, should a small amount of agricultural land stand in the way of a €55 million national project? What should take precedence, a small number of people or the greater good? This is the decision that the government needs to take, and it is completing the projects which need to be done. Residents from various localities pass from here, and yet these are being forgotten in order to protect the interests of [the farmers in question].”