Fabian Demicoli

Valletta: Facing Realities

 A well attended meeting for Valletta shop owners  gave the Ministry for Infrastructure and Communications (MICC) the go ahead to proceed with the extension of the pedestrianised areas to further enhance the City Core. 

Arrangements have also be settled so that distributors and service providers will now be able to service Valletta shops up to 9.30 am on all working days. Agreement has also been reached to locate an agreed number of loading/unloading bays in strategic positions so that the City Centre is better services during all hours that the Pedestrian Zone is closed to traffic.

City Centre shop owners have, however, insisted that the logistics of business requirements and the abilities and structures of distributors and providers of perishable goods make it impossible to avoid deliveries to the City Core on a number of afternoons.

Shop owners are therefore proposing either a 90 minute slot each afternoon between 14.30 and 16.00, or alternatively afternoon deliveries on only two days , between Monday and Friday.

The two busiest afternoons today are Monday and Friday, The first is necessary to replenish after the weekend and store for the rest of the week and Friday is the main delivery day to stock for the weekend.

Shop owners are insisting that it is still too early to cause all delivery companies, cargo haulers and service providers to organise their logistics and be able to furnish the Valletta Commercial Centre every day up till 9.30 am without resorting to at least two afternoon delivery slots.

GRTU insists that the logistics are too complicated to be reset in a short period of time under diktat from the Ministry. It simply cannot be done without detailed planning involving many enterprises. It is not just a question of shifting times. There are many other inputs like: equipment, workers, fresh produce, factory arrangements, road capacities and traffic directions. It is not simply a question of somebody drafting something on a Ministry's desk, it is rather causing diligently many people to operate differently without increasing costs and without negative impact on business.

Valletta commercial Center is not only the busiest in Malta but also the most difficult to manage, that is why GRTU advices caution, while remaining on a speedy practical solution.

The Ministry is proposing that the afternoons should be Wednesday and Saturday. Of course, Saturday is irrelevant as haulers, distributors, factories vegetable markets, etc do not work on a Saturday and the cost to cause them to operate will be prohibitive. From the receiving end, store workers and other people handling deliveries in, also do not work on a Saturday afternoon. It is inhumane really to force them to do so, even if at a price. Wednesday on the other hand is considered by many as awkward, and mid-week is not the preferred day for factories and other suppliers.

GRTU seeks a logical solution. A decision that is smart and intelligent. It can be done. The Ministry wants a new scheme to operate as from 18th August. The proposal in hand is still not diligently worked out. Imposing an illogical solution on the weekend after Santa Maria is neither smart nor intelligent.

 

 

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