[WATCH] Hundreds march against 'developers' dictatorship'

Residents who lost their homes were invited by Moviment Graffitti to air their grievances as they told the crowd that they've lost everything and will continue to fight for justice

Hundreds marched alongside the last Gwardamanga apartment to cave in
Hundreds marched alongside the last Gwardamanga apartment to cave in

A few hundred people showed up to Moviment Graffitti’s protest against the “dictatorship of developers" on Tuesday. One of the residents whose apartment in Gwardamanga caved in some weeks ago, Raymond Brincat, requested that the crowd sing the song You’ll Never Walk Alone in solidarity.

He told MaltaToday that the protest was about more than his individual case. “It means that people all around the country and who live beside a construction site are scared.”

Ahead of the march, Moviment Graffitti’s Wayne Flask told the crowd that there were more protestors than had been anticipated.

The family whose apartment caved in a few weeks ago led the march, holding a banner together with NGO representatives and other activists.

The protest started outside St Luke’s Hospital in Pietá at 6:30pm, with the group marching up to the offices of the Malta Developers Association in the vicinity. The by-now familiar battlecry of "down with developers' dictatorship" was accompanied by the sound of snare drums.

Residents who lost their apartments held the Moviment Graffitti banner with activists (Photo: James Bianchi/Mediatoday)
Residents who lost their apartments held the Moviment Graffitti banner with activists (Photo: James Bianchi/Mediatoday)

Graffitti’s protest was organised in the wake of three apartment collapses, all of which occurred over a period of less than two months. One occurred in Mellieha with another two happening in Gwardamanga.

All these apartments were adjacent to construction sites.

The last of the incidents took place just last Thursday in Gwardamanga. The families living in the apartment block have had to be provided with temporary accommodation by the Housing Authority.

Graffitti’s André callus told MaltaToday the day before the protest that developers had amassed too much power over the years and this has resulted in government policies reflecting their interests over that of everyday citizens. Authorities, he said, were often servile to this class of people.

Callus said the protest had been organised because of the group’s belief in the power of civil society.

A few hundred citizens filled the street leading up to the Malta Developers Association offices in Pietá (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
A few hundred citizens filled the street leading up to the Malta Developers Association offices in Pietá (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)

In light of the three incidents, the NGO has also made a list of urgent demands “in order to safeguard the safety of residents around Malta”.

One of these asks for a limit to development permits issued by the various authorities and an end to the laissez-faire attitude in the planning sector.

Foreigners were also amongst the protesting crowd. 

One placard painted pigs under the MDA logo. Others read 'Gaffanculo.' 

The march concluded with afflicted residents telling their story in short words. One of them said that she "would not stop fighting for justice." 

Callus concluded proceedings, saying that the "incest between developers and politicians needs to stop." He added that it's not acceptable that residents had to employ architects and lawyers for advice before their homes potentially bury them but that buildings should be audited by an independent entity paid for by the developers, not residents.

Sandro Chetcuti, MDA's president, did not come out to meet the protestors as he had suggested he might during a debate on Xarabank last Friday.

The protest was led by Moviment Graffitti but many other NGOs participated, including Alleanza Kontra l-Fqar, Archaeology Society of Malta, Bicycle Advocacy Group, Din L-Art Helwa, Flimkien Ghall-Ambjent Ahjar, Friends of the Earth Malta, Futur Ambjent Wiehed, Isles of the Left, Repubblika, and Zminijietna - Voice of the Left.

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