Fabian Demicoli

Valletta: Facing the realities

 A lot is being said about Valletta and the problems of parking and accessibility some believe that simply changing the people who speak on behalf of the business community is a good enough solution to solve real, practical problems. The truth is that if people do not have a basic understanding of how projects are developed and how they are implemented together with a practical knowledge of the dynamics of project implementation, it is almost impossible to be able to speak, let alone find solutions.

 

The strength of GRTU is that we can think of a vision and then draw plans of action, sometimes even over a period of years, that leads to a dramatic change in circumstances. One clear case is Valletta. GRTU has long established representatives of the vast majority of businesses within our City and has for many years striven to cause Government to implement a massive programme of development that would really restore the City of Valletta to the level of other renowned walled Cities in Europe.

GRTU is satisfied that never in the history of Valletta has so much refurbishment and upgrading works been planned and are being executed, which capital expenditures never ever imagined before. Faced with this tremendous Government commitment GRTU, who has worked so hard to cause the authorities to take Valletta seriously, cannot but applaud the many initiatives. We ask: is there anyone in his true senses in Malta who does not want Government to upgrade the City? For this to be done refurbishment works have to be implemented, paving of streets have to be carried out, new buildings as projected by Piano have to be executed and General complimentary embellishment programmes, as has been done in St George's Square, are also essential. There is so much to be done. It can be done piecemeal on a period of twenty years or it can be done as quickly as possible so that the business community and the Maltese and tourists visiting can benefit sooner rather than later, but for all this to be done many people have to do sacrifices.

GRTU strives to minimize the sacrifices. We do our utmost to cause Government and state bureaucrats to learn to walk with the businessmen skin. GRTU has elected a committee of business people from all areas of Valletta to discuss with Government the best way to implement all projects planned:" We do not go out promising people that while the projects are in action business will proceed as normal. How can it?" asks Vince Farrugia Director General of GRTU. "What we do is explain to people patiently how important it is that the work that has to be done is implemented as efficiently as possible. We discuss with the planners, we meet the designers, we talk regularly to the contractors and to the supervising engineers and we call meetings of our members to ensure that people are informed and their comments and suggestions are taken on board" says Vince Farrugia, "others go around causing people to sign paper under false pretences. It is not theatrics that will make our beautiful city better, with a higher return to the businesses established in the City. It is hard work and determination that does it. This is what the GRTU business committee is doing" concludes Vince Farrugia.

In the meetings already held with Government, GRTU has already achieved results. A Bulletin describing the works, what works are going to be done, where and when, will be distributed to the businesses affected by the works. For this to be done effectively we need the cooperation of the bureaucrats. Not all are cooperating but we will make them realize that if they do not cooperate they will damage their own cause. The Bulletin also announces the temporary arrangements reached with the authorities on the temporary parking and traffic management that will be implemented while works are proceeding.

GRTU is also presenting to Government proposals received from members on how to improve the overall parking situation as access to Valletta remains vital for the city's business viability. GRTU is supporting Government to implement as smoothly as possible the new Bus Terminus and the whole Public Transport Reform. It is essential that the largest number of people possible can come to Valletta with the least efforts using public transport. Many still, however, prefer to use private cars. Individual cars need extensive parking places. The discussion of the GRTU with Government has now identified these new projects:

  • 200 new parking slots in the vicinity of the Phoenicia Hotel
  • 100 new parking places and outside City Gate replacing the parking slots lost with the Piano Projects
  • 500 new covered parking places at the MCP Car Park Floriana. GRTU has already promised to the developers its full support for this project
  • 500 new park & ride parking slots at Floriana/Blata l-Bajda replacing the Tal-White Complex and buildings that will be removed
  • 200 additional perking space under discussion on the bases of GRTU proposals in a number of vital locations servicing the City

It is almost impossible to get things for free. GRTU continues to strive for the original Park & Ride parking slots to remain free of charge. There is a big issue on that to do with the many parking slots now free of charge on the periphery of Valletta, there is the problem of the other Green boxes (residents only) appearing in the streets of Valletta. GRTU prefers to have these boxes in Blue (up to 7pm available for all). There is the problem of the free parking of all the monti vehicles, there is the problem of the increasing number of road stretching exhibiting double yellow lines.

Signing petitions and promising the heavens solves no problems, the way foreword is to diligently discuss project by project, plan by plan and be available with alternative solutions to Government. This is the expertise of GRTU to understand the needs of GRTU members that insist on solutions. Most time to succeed.

 

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