Kappara residents say upgrade plans look like a roller coaster
A group of Kappara residents that is objecting to Transport Malta’s proposed upgrade of the Kappara junction has called the plans – meant to solve the traffic bottleneck – a Disneyland roller coaster.
The residents, mainly from the lower end of Kappara, claimed they had never been consulted on the project: “It is a misconception that the option chosen by TM had the eager approval of the Kappara residents,” they argued at a meeting yesterday.
Following a public consultation meeting on August 10, TM submitted to the planning authority an application for a signalised junction and bridge running through Għollieqa Valley. The bridge would link Triq Mikiel Anton Vassalli to Triq Tas- Sliema on the San Ġwann side. It would also mean that commuters to Gżira would need to drive by the lower end of Kappara.
Addressing the meeting, David Tonna, who owns property in the area, said the other Kappara residents who had actively lobbied for this option, and against a flyover on Regional Road, did not represent all the area residents.
“They were vociferous in their lobbying and good luck to them because their objections are valid, and perhaps we were passive, but now we are here and we will make our voice heard,” Dr Tonna rallied.
He questioned the date chosen for the public consultation which took place during the week of Santa Marija “when everyone is on holiday”.
On being shown a plan of the proposed junction, residents expressed their outrage: “That’s a luna park!” “All we need now is a roller coaster! It’s Disneyland.”
Their main objections to the plans concern the devaluation of their property.
Vince Attard of Nature Trust insisted TM should have called for an environmental impact assessment. “NGOs should have been notified about this – as guardians of the valley we are major stakeholders,” he said.
He argued that the proposed bridge would harm the valley especially during the construction phase. The original option, however, would still have harmed some 12 carob trees and other olive trees.
Only last week, the Kappara residents who favoured TM’s decision told The Times that the damage to the valley would be minimal. “That is a myth,” said Astrid Vella for Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar, saying that FAA was there to represent the public interest.
At one point the meeting became highly animated with residents and local council and committee members from the nearby towns pointing fingers at each other for the lack of consultation process.
A brief attempt at discussing a possible option – an option C – led to general disagreement, which promoted Dr Tonna to say: “At the end of the day we do not have to submit a suggestion, we are not experts.”
The solution to the Kappara junction bottleneck has been in discussion for 17 years.