Commercial waste collection in Valletta set for ‘huge reform’

On Xtra Sajf, Valletta 2018 Foundation chairman Jason Micallef discussed the ongoing “economic, social and cultural regeneration of Valletta’, among other subjects

Valletta 2018 chairman Jason Micallef
Valletta 2018 chairman Jason Micallef

Commercial waste collection in Malta's capital city is set for a ‘huge reform’ after an agreement was reached among all stakeholders, according to Valletta 2018 Foundation chairman Jason Micallef.

Speaking on current affairs programme Xtra Sajf, Micallef was asked about the level of cleanliness ahead of the forthcoming V18 celebrations.

“I said very early on and I am still very disappointed with the level of cleanliness of the capital city,” he said. “The country deserves better.”

Micallef stressed that the current situation, where there were more than 14 different contractors handling the collection of commercial waste, was unacceptable.  

The V18 chairman praised the government’s decision to appoint a cabinet member responsible for Valletta 2018, adding that V18 parliamentary secretary Deo Debattista was perfect for the role.

“He met will all stakeholders and I believe he has a done a good job because it seems that is now an agreement,” said Micallef.

He insisted that as things stood, shops which closed at 7.00pm more often than not dumped their waste outside, leading to waste collection trucks driving through the city while people were sitting outside enjoying a meal. As a result, the reformed system would see waste collected between 2.00am and 4.00pm.

“It is not because Valletta is going to be the European Capital for culture next year but because I personally see Valletta having much higher standards than it has, because this is what it deserves,” he added.

Despite the fact that work was currently focused on next year’s capital of culture celebrations, Micallef said that the government was looking towards the future, and had already earmarked up to €40 million in investment for Valletta between 2019 and 2023.

He said that in order for Valletta’s regeneration to be successful it was necessary to get the private sector on board, adding that the private sector had in turn understood government’s plans.

Alfred Sant and Joseph Muscat

Micallef was also asked by host Saviour Balzan about his relationship with current Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and former Prime Minister Alfred Sant, both of whom he worked with during his time at the Labour Party.

Describing Sant as an exception person, Micallef insisted that few people get the opportunity to meet a “genius” like Sant, adding that the former Prime Minister and Labour Party leader was capable of discussing any topic, ranging from politics to agriculture, to languages and classical music, with “a certain amount of authority”.

Micallef insisted that between 1992 and 1996 Sant had transformed the Labour Party into a “modern” and “centrist” party through a number of reforms including the construction of a new party headquarters as well as the setting up of the party’s TV and radio stations and its newspaper, which culminated in the Labour Party winning the 1996 election.

When it was pointed out by Balzan that many believed Sant to be hard headed when it came to certain policy positions, Micallef stressed that there were many issues where Sant was proved right and where his only mistake had been seeing an eventual outcome before everyone else.

Turning to the current Prime Minister, Micallef acknowledged that there were tensions between him and Muscat which had developed after the 2008 election loss, adding however that such tensions were normal for people working together for a long time.

Micallef said he had always believed Muscat had great potential and had believed him to be ideal for the role of MEP after Malta joined the European Union. Moreover, he said that after the 2008 election he had believed that the Labour Party needed to take some “crucial decisions” which included embracing Muscat’s more liberal views.

He described Muscat as having known, from a young age, exactly where he wanted to get.

“He was lucky, in my opinion, that he found himself in the midst of many important people who can be considered as being intellectuals, which included Alfred Sant and his kitchen cabinet,” said Micallef.

“He learnt a lot from them and he had a style where for many years – which is why I believe he always knew what he was going to do – where he would be quiet and listen to everyone without kicking up too much of a fuss and without stepping on anyone’s toes.”

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