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Mess in my back yard - Steve Pace

Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

The first time I heard about Nimby (not in my back yard)  was in Parliament in what seemed to be more like a class of misbehaving pre-stage school children rather  than a panel of mature politicians paid from our taxes. It happened, as I was responding to the minister about a point he raised on a one-way in Oliver Agius Street in Attard.  

As I stopped to ask what Nimby was, I was asked by another honourable member of panel to proceed with my speech and ignore what was going on in front of me. As I moved on, I helplessly watched and felt sorry for the minister, as he swerved and slouched in his seat in what almost seemed a professional contortionist performance but was probably more a sense of discomfort or possibly a severe back pain, Juncker style.

Maria Attard later patiently explained to me what Nimby meant. I was basically being ridiculed and mocked by a 30-year-old bigot who thinks that being a member of Parliament gives him some god-given right to look down at citizens and simply attempt to counter attack valid comments by showing them disrespect.

Back to today, and it seems that this Nimby thing is infectious, as I observe it being quoted more often by some trolls on the media, who seem happy enough to see around 5,000 residents exposed to higher levels of pollution, 1,100 residents isolated in what will be a cancer trap, 47 farmers divested of their livelihood, all in exchange for a petty pat on the shoulder from the masters at the quarters and the pretentious boy with an application for a swimming pool in ODZ.

The reality is that I have absolutely no need to be ashamed of the simple fact that I am protecting my interests.

I was born and raised in Attard. I was free to play football in our street, walk in fields, play with the farmers’ children who now are my age and have taken over the farms. As neighbours, we played hours on end together as pre-teen boys and girls. We had no mobile phones, but only our imagination to help us create long hours of fun and games in the summer holidays.

We just loved walking down Qormi Road to arrive at the deepest part of Wied is-Sewda and beyond.

I have absolutely no need to be ashamed of the simple fact that I am protecting my interests

My father invested his whole working life building our home stone by stone, on his back. As he sits there with tears in his eyes crouching in excruciating back pain from the arthritis, I cannot but be angry at the sheer arrogance being thrown back in my father’s face by a bunch of arrogant, incompetent persons who are claiming some sort of authority on traffic management when in fact they are just as inept at managing traffic as they probably are at baking muffins.

Why should I accept the fact that with the building of a new road just outside my father’s front door, we will see over 70,000 cars passing by at godspeed? Why should I accept the fact that pristine fields, which are being so lovingly cultivated and offering such a beautiful sunrise setting from the balcony of my father’s home, will be destroyed and replaced with black tarmac with white lines?

Why should I accept the fact that this road is not in my interest but being solely built to appease developers in the Mrieħel region and the illegal quarry in Attard which is apparently earmarked for development?  On top of all this, why should I accept being placed in between two major arterial roads and isolated from the rest of the inner core of Attard, simply because some envious people think that they have had enough exhaust and now feel that our party time should be over?

If in the process of defending my interests, I am defending other residents’ interest, farmers’ livelihoods, defending the last remaining open space in Attard, then so be it. Of course I do not want all this mess in my back yard, just as others do not want it in theirs.

The government can issue hundreds of press releases, claiming that it has re-aligned the project and reduced the amount of land being consumed. It can persist in saying that this project was long overdue and planned since 2006, but who cares?

Why should I acknowledge the government’s own defeat in the transport reform 2016-25 and pay the price for it? TM’s own report claims that a stronger economy gives people a better feel-good factor which will be translated in more cars being purchased.

Attard will become a traffic hub connecting the north to the south, and we will be seeing thousands of cars passing through Attard as the volume of cars keeps increasing daily, owing to the simple fact that this government has got it all wrong in the transport reform.

The genuine residents just don’t care about innuendos, as they realise that the project is not about giving Attard a breath of fresh air, but all about hidden agendas.

Herbert Messina Ferrante can write scripts of text, attempting to justify his favourable stand on the proposed project. He evidently misses the real scenario which will see him living flanked by two arterial roads with no more than 96 metres separating them. If he thinks that Notary Zarb Street will become a rose garden, he is grossly mistaken and he evidently has been used by those proposing this project for their own political ambitions.

The fight will continue till the very end and beyond, until the government realises that this project must be re-aligned and placed well away from all residents of Attard. The fight will continue to defend our investments, inheritance and our health.

Rest assured, that whoever is protecting the political, partisan interests of those who are using our community as target, will not be left to sleep at night restfully, thinking they got their revenge on us as we seek all legal measures to stop this destruction and stop this arrogant bunch of crooks who think that their interests are more important than ours.

Steve Pace is a strategic thinker.

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