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Neglected heritage in San Gwann

The rubble and chaos at the site of the Ta` Cieda Roman tower.

The rubble and chaos at the site of the Ta` Cieda Roman tower.

A news item carried on June 21 mentioned that, according to the Malta Environment and Planning Authority, only four of 17 recently scheduled properties are in good condition. The rest are suffering either from unauthorised intervention, deterioration or neglect. I am not in the least surprised, seeing the lack of interest and concern by most people, whether in authority or not.

Having served as mayor and deputy mayor of San Gwann and as chairman of the Culture and Heritage Committee for nine years, I managed to have the Planning Authority include 13 of our historical and archaeological remains in its list of scheduled properties. Less than half of these can be considered as in fairly good condition. The others are completely neglected and deteriorating fast including the Roman cistern, wall and remains at or near Triq il-Baruza, Ta' Cieda Roman Tower, Ta' Xindi Farm and the rubble wall and double arch at Tal-Balal. Then there is the very ancient chapel of San Gwann ta' l-Ghorghar that gave its name to our locality. Although it is being regularly used by the MUSEUM Society, it is crying for conservation, restoration and management. I have been asking for the society to be given an alternative place so that the chapel can be expropriated and maintained as a little historical jewel.

The need for the rehabilitation and embellishment of the famous cart ruts has been expressed in the papers for years. They are in a pitiful state abounding with dog poop and food for the cat colony living there and still enclosed by chicken wire fencing.

For years I have been writing in the papers and even made personal contacts about the matter but the excuse is shortage of manpower and finance. I have appealed to the Museums Department and Heritage Malta who publicly admit to their importance but nothing concrete has materialised to preserve these remains for posterity.

I also appealed to the prospective candidates of the recent local council elections and promised to give my preferential votes to those who have our heritage at heart. Only one out of the numerous candidates responded but unfortunately she didn't make it. None of those elected seem to show the least interest in our heritage.

I seem to have become merely a voice in the wilderness.

The Superintendent of the Cultural Heritage maintains that he is keeping as close an eye as possible on the heritage assets of San Gwann, which he calls "one of Malta's most important sites which bridged Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages". But keeping an eye on them is definitely not enough..

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