Fabian Demicoli

Bisazza Street is now Pedestrian And there is no turning back

 GRTU has during this week been very vociferous on the issue of Bisazza Street. We have written to all the stakeholders concerned and we re-emphasise that it is not an issue of whether Bisazza Street is to be left car free or not, as this decision had already been taken and widely welcomed, but it is an issue that requires a good managerial solution for Arriva. It is not acceptable that the solution chosen takes away something from the retailing community or the consumer. Only Government and Arriva have to give and take, no other stakeholder should be affected. Stakeholders must only be involved to help with finding the solution.

 

We fail to realise what the Pedestrianisation of Bisazza Street meant to the retailing Community of the area and the consumers. The pedestrianisation process created inconveniences and discomfort, which the retailing community and the consumers were happy to carry to achieve the much desired pedestrianisation. We sometimes also fail to realise for how long this has been on the table and when finally pedestrianisation has been achieved we immediately threaten to take it away. This issue has absolutely nothing to do with the developments by Midi at Tigne. GRTU has always been at the fore front to encourage further planned and structured investment in the whole of the Sliema area. GRTU had always stated it is staunchly in favour of the new Public Transport system even though we will continue to seek improvements as thing progress. We also have full trust in the professional ability of Arriva to deliver on its commitments and to do this with great social corporate responsibility. This is why in a letter addressed to the Arriva Managing Director, Mr Bostow, GRTU expressed its disappointment in the way the Bisazza situation was handled and more so in the way the news was delivered. Such an important issue required mature discussion and not a rash public statement.

Not discussing with GRTU as the recognised civil society representative of the retailing and service providing community has led to a patchwork solution to the detriment of only the retailing community and the consumers. Problems immediately prop up when discussions stop being transparent and start being carried out behind closed doors. Stakeholders directly involved must be included without questions. GRTU re-emphasises it is available to discuss at any time and urges the authorities to take the issue back to the negotiation table with the involvement of all stakeholders as public litigation is not exactly the best way to achieve effective and early results.

It is inconceivable that GRTU now learns from the media that 479 busses were planned to drive up Bisazza Street every day. This figure has never been mentioned before  in any consultation meeting. This is now a feature of this Government. They do consult but never is the whole truth available.

GRTU stays confident and insists that with greater endeavour a solution can be found that will not, even for one day, disturb the Pedestrian Zone. As previously stated GRTU sees no wrong if the solution requires further expenditure as long as it is sustainable but insists that this expense of public funds goes for improvements and embellishment for the benefit of both the investing private community and the consumer, on whose support the whole project depends.

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