Ian Borg calls for mature discussion on metro project: 'Let’s not politicise the issue'

Infrastructure Minister Ian Borg says projects like the Marsa flyover and the Central Link would be futile if government does not capitalise on their success

Transport Minister Ian Borg
Transport Minister Ian Borg

Transport Minister Ian Borg has called for a “mature discussion” beyond partisan debate on the proposed metro project.

“For the first time we have a plan that goes beyond the next five or ten years, and that is why the country needs to discuss it maturely before we decide on the way forward,” Borg said.

In a presentation by Transport Malta chairman Joseph Bugeja, the study proposes a three-line underground transport system with 25 stops. It is estimated to cost around €6.25 billion and would be spanned over a period of 15-20 years.

The three lines would distribute as follows; the red Nothern line connecting Naxxar with Pembroke, the green Central line connecting Birkirkara with Marsa and Valletta, and the blue Southern line connecting Mater Dei Hospital with the airport and Cospicua. The main stations will be in Sliema, Gzira, Valletta, Birkirkara and Cospicua.

Speaking on TVM’s Xtra, Borg said the government has offered the country both small and medium-term solutions.

“We have widened bottle necks and carried out projects like the Central Link and Marsa fly-overs. Now we are presenting a long-term plan,” Borg said. “We don’t want it to be Ian Borg’s, Robert Abela’s or the Labour Party’s project, we want a national way forward.”

He said the country must make use of the time won through the construction of projects like in Marsa and the Central Link.

“If the rate of population growth remains as it is now, these projects will not solve the issue forever, and so we do not want to repeat the same mistakes as those before us of not thinking for the future,” he said. “Because in the late 80’s and the early 90’s the Nationalist government did not look at other modes of transport, we had a country that was jammed.”

Borg said he was well aware of the Maltese’s dependency on cars.

“I am convinced people love their cars, and they will continue to do so until they have an alternative, and today they don’t,” he said.

The infrastructure minister insisted the debris which will come from the metro’s excavation must not be looked at as waste, but as a resource.

“The Prime Minister has already made reference on the issue, and both Jose Herrera, and Aaron Farrugia after him, have been working on the country’s policy on land reclamation,” he said.

He also played down claims the proposal was an “election gimmick”.

“Studies were ordered back in 2017,” he said. “Because we are in the election year, it does not mean we should stop presenting our ideas.”