Fabian Demicoli

GRTU dubs reformed warden system a cosmetic exercise – calls on decision-makers to go back to drawing board

GRTU Malta Chamber of SMEs calls for an urgent overhaul of the local enforcement system. Despite wide consultation in 2014 and updates to the law to establish the Local Enforcement System Agency (LESA), the sorry situation remains unchanged. 
 
This is reflected in the lack of consideration to those working on the road to conduct deliveries or transport passengers, amongst others. Productivity is already affected by growing traffic and lack of parking. Irrational fines continue to hinder rather than improve the situation. 
 
The starting point for devising and implementing enforcement needs to be based on the reality of those whose livelihood depends on the road, where a regular day for delivering perishable goods or driving tourists to catch their flight, are such that traffic causes constant delays. Delivery-persons conduct difficult goods-carrying work often in undesirable weather conditions in both summer and winter. The service needs to be effected as close to destination as possible. In a constant battle against time, local wardens need to be there to support and not to reap on the traffic and parking situation by issuing of senseless fines. 
 
GRTU reiterates that even though parking abuse needs to be addressed, the lack of parking spaces and the related exigencies should not be abused of by wardens to issue fines irrationally. Gozo Tourism Association (GTA) and Gozo Business Chamber have accused wardens of ‘irrational decisions’ over Santa Marija weekend. There needs to be serious consideration of the impact of such approach in terms of tourism and competitiveness. Blatant issuing of fines in what is possibly the busiest day for external and internal tourism alike in Gozo is insensitive to say the least.
 
Solutions need to be found on a broad level and to this extent GRTU welcomes Transport Malta’s move towards setting out a Master Plan and Transport Strategy for the whole country, to which GRTU has put forward a document with concrete proposals. This however does not tally with how the local enforcement system is operating in practice.
 
Being flexible and practical are key. Whilst abuse should not be tolerated, parking for a few minutes in places where there is no inconvenience or obstacle should be allowed and guided by local wardens rather than fined. Unloading and boarding bays need to be respected. 
 
We should look at a system which educates first-time offenders and punishes frequent offenders. The private operator needs to invest in training of those engaged in wardens to communicate effectively, educate and give directions instead of simply issuing fines, which is at times accompanied by arrogance. Local wardens need to understand the importance of their role when aiding during traffic diversions and road closures and have to be seen acting accordingly. 
 
Most of all setting up of agencies that control enforcement needs to be tied with government self-financing rather than leaving it up to the operation itself to finance the authority or enforcement. Enforcement cannot be driven by the need to collect funds but rather towards understanding, educating and ultimately improving the situation. The goal is not to issue more fines, but to provide a better service to the community.
 
This matter shall be presented with specific measures in GRTU’s proposals for the upcoming National Budget.
 

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