Editorial: For residents only?
Transport Minister Austin Gattsaid recently he was not aware that the Local Council and Transport Malta had agreed to close off the road leading to Mellieħa centre to traffic except for residents. I will not go into the merits of whether he should have known or not, but I do agree with his statement that public roads should never be restricted solely to residents in the area.
However I also ask why residents in some localities should be given privileged parking by their council on public roads while residents in other localities are not? Why do I have to suffer doubly by not finding parking within 200 metres of my house on weekends because my locality does not promote residents’ parking and yet not find parking in St Julian’s when I go out because most bays are reserved for residents?
If we agree roads should be open to the public, should not the same apply to parking bays. Are we saying that I can drive through some public roads but am not allowed to pull over to the side of that same road... does this really make sense?
On the flipside, it was unveiled last week that the government was seriously considering privatising all public car parks. Hats off to whoever took this decision despite the carpark attendants’ protests.
Privatisation is the only way that will allow us to improve our transport and road infrastructure standards. Whatever one says, the introduction of new public transport operator Arriva was a good thing.
However, government needs to take even bolder transport-related decisions. Why doesn’t it give the construction and maintenance of our roads to the private sector under a BOT (Build, Operate, Transfer) scheme?
This is the only way we will ever get to see roads worthy of any EU member state rather than a third world country.
The way this usually works is that private companies build the roads and are given a limited franchise. Ownership is transferred to the government when the franchise expires.
Another method could be to pass on the road maintenance to private companies, and government would take a part of their profit from the tolls charged.
Obviously, the government will have to review other taxes such as registration tax to compensate for drivers having to pay for the use of private roads.
The Sliema deputy mayor also recently proposed a new traffic management plan aimed at increasing parking spaces and reducing congestion in Sliema.
Although I disagree with the proposal to reduce the size of parking bays which makes it very difficult for drivers with big cars to park, the plan proposes many concepts that make absolute sense.
Two measures proposed that I totally agree with are the elimination of all sleeping policemen, replacing them instead with proper road markings and signs and the introduction of traffic lights at Mrabat Street, in the bottleneck near the former Belmont Hotel, which bus drivers would be able to control.
Way to go deputy!
Finally my wife was recently handed a fine by a traffic warden for some irregularity with the plates of our car.
Granted, nothing wrong with that. However, what I found really strange about the contravention received by post was that the warden felt the need to specify that the driver was a female by scribbling “female driver” at the bottom of the fine.
Perplexing as this might be, I thank him/her for this since it made it very clear between my wife and I as to who was driving at the time of the contravention and who was to blame.
I presume the reason the warden wrote “female driver” was because the car is registered in my name, a male; however I still thought it unnecessary that he had to pinpoint the gender of the driver and had no relevance to the contravention, if any.