Fabian Demicoli

A green opportunity for Maltese Freight Transport – The C-Liege Project

According to European Environment
Agency, several EU Member States missed the 2010 limits to green-house
emissions. Transport is responsible for a large
share of urban air pollution. Road freight vehicles in an urban environment
usually emit a greater proportion of certain pollutants per kilometre than
other motor vehicles such as cars and motorcycles, and their fuel consumption
is higher per unit of distance travelled besides the fact that many of them use
high-carbon intensive fuel.

This year the number of motor vehicles
in Malta went up by 2.4 % compared to 2011 reaching a fleet of 313,027 units,
of which 13% is represented by freight vehicles.

Moreover, the country currently has the
5th highest number of vehicles per capita in the world, with 743 motor vehicles
per 1,000 people, causing major congestion problems at peak times, especially
in the areas with the highest population and trade density such as Marsa,
Birkirkara, Luqa and Qormi.

Malta, as many other EU Countries, is
facing major barriers to implement sustainable energy measures, aimed in
particular at an efficient freight distribution and transport management. Even
where there is a strong commitment to improve efficiency levels, cities often
lack the needed information, supportive national level policies, access to
financing, etc.

There is considerable consensus that
improving the energy efficiency of passenger/goods transport is a key challenge
in moving towards a more sustainable energy future. But meeting such a
challenge requires an evidence-based approach.

The C-Liege Project (Clean Last Mile
Transport and Logistics Management for Smart and Efficient Local Governments in
Europe) has been developed with the aim to set criteria for assessing and
improving the sustainability of transport policies promoting energy efficient
and cleaner freight movements in urban areas, providing a novel set of
integrated solutions and applying a mix of "push & pull" measures
to city time slots/space allocation. The Project is co-funded by the
Intelligent Energy Europe Programme.

Malta is one of the seven EU pilot
sites and the Maltese consortium's partner, Paragon Europe, is committed to get
Local Authorities and other key stakeholders involved in the process to discuss
and finally introduce and implement transport measures already deployed in
other EU cities. This process started with the organization of two Round Table
meetings in Attard, where Paragon Europe invited the Local Councils of Tarxien,
Marsa, Luqa, Birzebbuga and Safi, together with other relevant organizations
(Traffic Police, the University of Malta) and private Businesses (Valletta
Gateway Terminals, shippers and freight operators).

The discussions brought to the
attention the major problems affecting the freight transport sector and their
causes, such as high number of second hand freight vehicles, double space
parking due to lack of unloading bays, no alternative delivery systems, absence
of Freight Quality Partnerships, minimal usage of environmentally friendly
vehicles and time restrictions in Custom Offices in Malta, which run on
government based hours and run until 4pm in Winter and 1pm in Summer.

Successively, the attendees identified
some good measures that could alleviate the traffic congestion in the urban
areas, such as fiscal
incentives to vehicles' replacement, Environmental Zones, Heavy
cargo ban during rush hours and night
delivery. Some Local Councils present committed themselves to discuss these
policies and create a preferential path for their implementation.

Paragon Europe and its Maltese partners
are convinced that such measures can support the Government's efforts in
reducing and better managing freight transport issues within the Maltese urban
centres.

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