We are not second class
Recently, we witnessed how the conditions at the law courts in Gozo are in a state of decay. After an onlyingozo.com incident in the court building during which a person and his lawyer suffered stab wounds, GonziPN went into panic mode. In order to shut everybody up, the old defunct equipment previously screening people accessing the law courts in Valletta was hastily installed in the old and crammed building in Gozo.
It was no surprise that when Justyne Caruana tested the metal detector with a simple set of keys, she realised that the equipment was nothing else but decoration.
This epitomises the colonialistic outlook the Nationalist Administration have on us Gozitans. At best, we are being treated as second class citizens.
This comes as no surprise to medical personnel in Gozo because the General Hospital there is loaded with second-hand equipment. This equipment runs its natural lifetime at the general hospital on the mainland and, once expired or nearing expiry, gets revived at the sister island’s hospital.
Just look at most of the beds in the wards! The equipment in the operating theatres, from the operating table to the anaesthetic machine to most surgical instruments, are all enjoying a second life. The sterilising equipment at the Central Sterile Supply Department in Gozo, be it the autoclave or the washer disinfectant, are both second hand!
The list is endless.
The classical example, however, occurred a few years back when somebody in St Frances Square had a brainwave and decided that the old Argon laser machine, used to treat diabetic eye disease, and which, by then, was sidelined due to the purchase of new equipment could be transferred to Gozo. The concept was sound as this would save the Gozitan diabetic patients from travelling on a regular basis to Malta to receive the so important eye laser treatment. Unfortunately, nobody bothered to check whether the equipment was in working order or not. To house this piece of archaic equipment, a whole room was required because it still had enormous coolers to prevent overheating.
To cut a long story short, a tender was issued to build a new room adjoining the ophthalmic outpatients department to house this “new” piece of equipment for the Gozitans. This was duly constructed and decorated and laser equipment installed only to realise that it is defunct. To this date, the Gozitan diabetic patients still have to make their way to Mater Dei Hospital to have their necessary treatment on a regular basis. It’s now a museum exhibition piece.
If it weren’t for the Friends of the Sick and the CCU Foundation, very little new equipment and services would have been available at the Gozo General Hospital. The much-acclaimed EU-funded X-ray department is, to this date, not properly manned to work at its full potential and, thus, equipment is being left to depreciate. By the time personnel become available, the equipment will be outdated. Very poor planning indeed.
All these incidents seem to keep on hammering the same message, that Gozitans are second class citizens because whenever anything lacks within the public sector, second-hand equipment is transferred from the mainland. Getting used to mediocrity is the name of the game.
This colonial approach that GonziPN has repeatedly adopted in our regard reached its peak the other day with the Malta-EU Steering and Action Committee holding a meeting in Gozo themed Gozo: Island-Region In European Union.
If this title is not deceiving, I wonder what is. Prior to EU accession, we Gozitans were not only promised but assured that Gozo will be considered as an island region and, thus, would benefit from separate funding to compensate for the double insularity drawbacks.
The notorious Declaration 36 turned out to be just a unilateral declaration by the Maltese government lacking the consent of the European Commission.
To add insult to injury, GonziPN never even bothered to mandate the Commission to report on the economic and social situation of Gozo in advance of negotiations on the EU budgetary framework for 2007-2013, thus resulting in Gozo losing out and how.
It now transpires that following the recent accession of countries like Romania and Bulgaria, that have lower GDPs than the EU average, Malta would be demoted from Objective1 status losing out on EU funds with even worse consequences on Gozo.
At least, after years of deception, sweet talking and beating about the bush from GonziPN, now we seem to have confirmation that, for the first time, Malta has formally issued a mandate to the Commission to draw up a report on the economic and social disparities between Gozo and Malta. The hope is that Gozo will be officially confirmed to have a GDP below the 75 per cent EU average and, thus, benefit from a special status vis-à-vis funding prior to the2014-2020 budget.
Hoping that this is no pre-electoral gimmick, confirmation of the disparity would obviously confirm that GonziPN has failed us miserably.
The constant brain and skill drain is leading to a shrinking population and a rising dependency ratio, which spell an ominous future for our island.
The lack of political will and commitment towards Gozo is worrying. Gozitans are being treated as second class citizens and being accustomed to mediocrity.