Closure of Strand carriageway for car-free day leaves residents fuming

Residents living on the Strand are angered by Transport Malta’s decision to close half of the main road to celebrate car-free day while giving restaurants and bars the chance to bring out more tables and chairs

The carriageway from Gżira to Sliema along the Strand will be closed to traffic on Saturday for Car Free Day celebrations
The carriageway from Gżira to Sliema along the Strand will be closed to traffic on Saturday for Car Free Day celebrations

The stretch of road between Gżira and Sliema will be closed tomorrow as part of the European Car Free Day celebrations but the decision has not gone down well with residents.

The celebration will see the carriageway in the Sliema direction being closed to all traffic, affectively baring residents from using their garages.

A Sliema resident who spoke to MaltaToday complained that Transport Malta should have closed the opposite carriageway leading to Gżira instead so as not to inconvenience residents.

“They could have celebrated car-free day by closing the other carriageway but as things stand it appears that Transport Malta wanted to benefit the bars and restaurants by allowing them to bring out more chairs and tables,” the resident said. "This is bar and restaurant day not car-free day."

His frustration was reflected in a statement released this afternoon by the Sliema council that clarified its position on the matter.

“Transport Malta's plans were much more than an environmental awareness activity, but one verging more on a grand style street party that appeases and creates more business opportunities for the number of catering establishments that regularly abuse by blocking off pedestrian access on the pavements at the Strand,” the council said.

It noted that Transport Malta planned to have the Strand closed to vehicular traffic from 9am on Saturday to 1am on Sunday, proposing also the setting up of a music stage and encouraging catering establishments to set up tables and chairs on the traffic-free street.

The Sliema council said it objected to this event because it would add to the already great nuisance and daily inconvenience suffered by residents in the area. 

“Accordingly, the Car Free Day road closure period was, on our insistence and objections, minimised until 4pm on Saturday. We are informed, also, that plans for the street party approach will be totally removed by Transport Malta,” the council said.

The Sliema council said it would not allow the setting up of tables and chairs in the street.

“The council also stressed that residents of the area should be given unrestricted access to their garages but Transport Malta, citing safety concerns, said it will not allow such access,” the council reported.

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