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Med cleanup champions - Jason Shutt

I am British/Maltese, having had the enormous privilege of visiting “home” from the UK every year since I was born in 1972. Together with my family, I have witnessed many changes, mainly for the good. My four children are also witnessing further changes that I as a child would have thought impossible.

The changes I speak about include, for example, the pedestrianisation of the Valletta bus terminus. Well done to the project managers and financiers for getting it right. It just proves that what seemed to be the busiest hub on the island could be transformed into such an attractive square without disrupting what is still a central transport hub.

What is depressing, though, is that the observations that I myself made as an enthusiastic and concerned teenager in the mid-1980s continue to sadden my teenage children.

Though Malta thrived, thanks to its continued popularity as a tourist destination, the onset of economy airlines and EU membership, to name but a few of the good things for the island, the issue of refuse and general upkeep remain. The Keep Malta Tidy campaign is simply not working.

Indeed, is there such a campaign at all?

We see the signs, we see the tireless work of the refuse collectors every day, but what of the hotspots like St Julian’s and the surrounding residential sites, to say nothing of the disgraceful Paceville?

Rubbish on the streets is out of control and is blighting this beautiful home of ours

When we visit, we stay in Swieqi and witness, year on year, the sheer carelessness of not just tourists and students but locals too. Very sad indeed.

Rubbish on the streets is out of control and is blighting this beautiful, beautiful home of ours – home of the Maltese, the proud Maltese. Simple measures can be put in place, but, every time we are back, it seems the situation gets worse.

Something needs to be done to the entire Sliema-St Julian’s road network and even beyond, towards the new Pendergardens complex. There is no doubt that this stretch needs to be pedestrianised now, without further delay.

There can be one bus lane and restricted times imposed for deliveries to shops and cafés. Absolutely no cars or taxis should be allowed there. The Regional Road was built to take away traffic from the built-up areas, so it should be used to serve the purpose it was intended for.

If need be, introduce a congestion charging zone in the Sliema/Pendergardens entry and exit areas.

This would hit private motorists where it hurts – their pocket – and they would soon start using the Regional Road.

Local permits could be issued for those who need to use the area.

It’s a simple case of seeking to see how other cities do it in a bid to remedy that awful hotspot, not just now but for years to come.

When it comes to refuse, well, please look at the filth on this island. Then look again and again. It cannot be allowed to continue.

If revellers and locals know they can be fined a minimum of €100 for littering, they will think twice before dumping that beer can or plastic water bottle.

It is so disgraceful. In such a small island it is very easy for items we dispose of to end up in the sea, and we have heard so much about ocean trash. Malta can take the lead in cleaning up. Imagine what that would do to the island’s popularity if the Maltese were seen as champions of a Clean the Mediterranean campaign.

The careless practice of dumping rubbish bags outdoors must also be stopped. Surely, small areas can be cordoned off and install disposable waste management bins where residents and shop and restaurant owners can throw their bags.

Both Spain and Holland have systems that work very well and one can hardly see any rubbish at all on the streets there.

Please campaign hard to get Malta where it should be, not where it is heading.

Jason Shutt, who is married to a Maltese Canadian, is training to become an airline pilot.

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