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‘Unintelligent’ road signs lead to Mġarr road chaos

Signs did not flag that road was closed

Electronic signs installed in 2016 are still not fully functional.

Electronic signs installed in 2016 are still not fully functional.

Electronic traffic signs installed to relay real-time information to drivers have yet to become fully functional despite the government announcing they would become operational from January.

Earlier this week, Transport Malta workers resurfacing a road in Mġarr were forced to put up a number of signs while carrying out the work in an attempt to guide motorists as they made their way towards an area that had been closed off.

The road in question, Mġarr Road, was closed on Monday and will remain inaccessible until Friday as the workers there scarify the road to remove the old surface and apply concrete and layers of asphalt.

One such electronic sign, located close to the area where work was being carried out, merely urged drivers to “Observe traffic regulations”

Despite traffic spilling on to the nearby roads on Monday, electronic traffic signs installed two years ago and which were meant to turn “intelligent” at the start of this year, did not relay any information to drivers to warn them that work was being carried out, resulting in total chaos in the area.

One such electronic sign, located close to the area where work was being carried out, merely urged drivers to “Observe traffic regulations”, giving no other information on what lay ahead.

Traffic jams ensued with some frustrated motorists even resorting to making illegal U-turns at the busy junction close to Mosta after being stuck in traffic for over half an hour.

Transport Minister Ian Borg announced in November that the electronic traffic signs would start relaying information from January.

This would coincide with the transport authority’s traffic control centre becoming operational on a 24-hour basis. The centre, located in Paola, is intended to monitor major arterial roads through a network of high-resolution cameras.

When asked why it had taken so long for the signs to become “intelligent”, Dr Borg said at the time that he had flagged the issue to the authorities several times.

Questions sent to both the Transport Ministry and Transport Malta on why the system was not being used to its full potential were not answered by the time of writing.

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