Local motoring talent makes waves abroad

This month we start by congratulating Monty Bugeja on driving the Mr Whippy Top Methanol dragster entered by Joe Carabott in the FIA European Championship and becoming European champion 2012 where Monty reached 266 mph in 5.292 seconds at Santa Pod in the UK, and just to rub it in a Maltese dragster driven by Chris Polidano finished second.

It’s amazing how well Maltese race drivers do against international competition abroad, away from the nagging restrictions put on such sportsmen and sportswomen here. This is a country where anyone able to drive or ride a bike with enthusiasm and skill is condemned by the various government authorities as being slightly short of a dozen when it comes to ‘grey matter’ and totally irresponsible because they enjoy driving or riding irrespective of the fact that they are damn fine exponents of their sport, and highly respected abroad.

It gives me no pleasure to read a criticism of The Times in a piece submitted by Transport Malta, ‘New Roads handled the storm well’ (The Times, September 15) because I, for one, expect all roads constructed at enormous expense over the past 10 years to be able to cope with unexpected floods and not fall apart.

Maltese roads are constructed on a rocky, limestone base unlike many fenland roads in Norfolk and Lincolnshire, where they might be constructed on many, many metres of peat, which expands and shrinks depending on the water that seeps through.

Yet, in Malta the same roads get damaged on a yearly basis whenever there are heavy flash floods. Please stop criticising people doing a job for imagined ‘moats’ in eyes when the obvious ‘beams’ in Transport Malta’s eyes are happily ignored.

A newspaper publishes editorial comment, not based on stories applauded by Transport Malta but formulated from the perceived facts, and one of the facts is that there are sections of Route 1 – a TEN-T road from Għallis to Kennedy Grove and then from Mistra up to the Selmun roundabout – that are most definitely third world in their damaged state.

This is part of the road from the Freeport to San Lawrenz in Gozo applauded by the Transport Malta representative who was so keen to criticise The Times.

Many of us expected the section from Armier turning to Marfa to be a double lane going downhill as well as uphill, where the crawler lane will work wonders. We expected a dual section downhill because Transport Malta has been pontificating about the need to have a dual carriageway through the Kennedy Grove section, a section no more important to the hundreds of regular business travellers than the Marfa ‘express route’.

The drivers of heavy vehicles seem to fail to understand that their vehicles should be able to cope with downhill sections of road at speeds in excess of 20 km/h, a speed most certainly totally unacceptable to all but the most scared, fazed or those utterly determined to cause a traffic snarl up whenever the opportunity presents itself.

In 1996 Police Superintendent Alfred Abela tried to persuade other members of the Traffic Control Board that during peak hours, especially, it was vitally important to keep traffic moving at a proper pace. This fell on deaf ears and recently it took 50 minutes to get from Bidnija to Porte de Bombes starting at 7.10am because of the ‘snail like’ progress of the lead vehicles.

We simply have too many vehicles for anyone to cause traffic congestion during rush hours. The enforcement agencies really should earn their shilling and take far more miserable examples of motoring humanity to task.

I find it totally soul destroying that in the far off days when roads were horrible, narrow and uneven, the speed limit was raised to 80 km/h and now that so many roads are safe at a far higher rate speed limits are constantly being lowered.

However, in my opinion, local councils are daft in laying wonderful smooth surfaces in towns and villages for the opposite reasons to those mentioned above.

Never, never lead in-town motorists to the point where they can be tempted by an unblocked smooth surface to drive like totally demented apes because they most certainly will.

Why are speed limits lower than the 80 km/h allowed? Partly because the EU decreed that fatalities must be halved from the 2006 levels. Cut speeds, cut deaths?

Pedestrians will still die in town through casual ‘jay walking’ but out of town 80 km/h is a good speed.


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