Malta-Gozo Bridge: Sustainable?

The latest proposal of a project includes a bridge which should be constructed between Malta and Gozo.  There are many different opinions on whether it should be built or not.  Many people think it will be an eyesore, while others think it could spare time when travelling from Malta to Gozo and vice versa.  However, the negative impacts are substantially higher than the benefits.

First and foremost we have the costs.  The bridge linking Malta and Gozo will include a very high capital cost of not less than €1 billion.  This will lead to a high deficit and a higher debt.  Apart from the capital cost we also have the maintenance costs.  According to a study by China Communications Construction Company, the maintenance and running costs will be some €4 million p.a.  However, these are only estimates, and as many other projects have shown, these costs are always much higher than predicted.

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We also have to mention the travelling costs.  How high arethe travelling costs going to be to cross from Malta to Gozo?  Will fares be raised in order to cope with the costs?  What about tourists?  Would they enjoy seeing a bridge instead of magnificent fortifications and amazing cliffs?  What about the Gozo Channel?  Will people employed with this company lose their jobs?

Another issue are the climatic conditions of the Maltese Islands.  The channel between Malta and Gozo is well known for strong winds and high waves, especially in winter.  Malta only has 7 windless days, meaning that this element is considered a major threat to the project.  This shows that the project will also affect the safety of commuters using the bridge.  Another threat includes earthquakes.  Earthquakes are unpredictable and within a few seconds one single seismic event can eliminate hundreds of lives and destroy the bridge and with it, millions of Euros.

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Another aspect includes the location.  The points joining Malta and Gozo include Qala in Gozo and Marfa in Malta.  In both locations we have 2 very important historical buildings.  The White Tower (or Ahrax Tower) was built in the 17th Century by the Knights.  The St. Anthony Battery at Ras il-Qala was also built by the knights in the 18th Century.  These 2 historical buildings are of great importance and building a bridge will cause several effects.  The construction of new roads can have an impact on these historical monuments and the construction of the bridge will spoil this area.  One has to look at historical buildings keeping in mind what their function was, and the bridge will destroy this function.

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Finally we have the environmental aspect.  The Malta-Gozo Channel is an important bird area (IBA).  The construction of a bridge would severely affect birds in this area, ranging from Cory’s and Yelkouan Shearwaters to large migrating birds of prey and others such as storks.

The bridge will also have a negative impact on the marine ecosystem.  And what about Comino?  The bridge will destroy the peace on Comino, which will be affected by heavy traffic flow going past Comino.  It will also lead to more pollution due to cars passing close to the island.  The construction of new roads will additionally put more pressure on our ecosystem.

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ADZ Malta Green Youth strongly opposes this project because it is the most unsustainable project in Maltese history.  Not only will it negatively affect the environment, but it will also lead to negative impacts on the economy, society and culture.

Pascal Aloisio (ADZ Executive Member)

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European Week for Waste Reduction

A waste product is something which has no further use, something very rare (if not non-existent) in nature. Most refuse contains items that can be used further, saving resources, time & money and the environment in the process.

This week is European Week for Waste Reduction and several initiatives are going on around Malta. However one week of initiatives by green minded people is not enough to bring down the ‘Bastille’ of littering mentality so commonly found in the Maltese population. Malta imports most its products resulting in an accumulation of packaging material, which many consumers, including government entities, businesses and households discard as waste. Most of this material can be recycled or used further, but too often this fact is overlooked, resulting in landfills being filled up with material which should not be there.

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The plastic bottle is a hot-potato with regards to waste management. First off, most bottled drinks are simply products which can do without. The health aspect of sugary drinks namely sodas, is something I will avoid, because for one I don’t know where I should start and further, I doubt that there is enough place in this blog to enlighten sugar-loving souls of the dark-side of sugary-drinks. Secondly, bottled water is another product which we can avoid, by using refillable bottles, and opting for water dispensers which also incorporate reusable materials. And finally, we should all be responsible enough to tolerate our waste and find a suitable place to recycle our waste.

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One last thought is that we don’t have much time until we can continue this way. Other European countries are at the forefront of waste efficiency, yet we are still struggling with littering! Education especially to families with young children needs to be a top priority of the government. Whilst this investment may not provide immediate economic gains, in a few years time recoverable material may even become a currency on its own. Climate change and resource depletion are ticking time bombs, so what are we waiting for?

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Whilst the overall trajectory is towards waste reduction, we as a state need strict regulation and much more importantly ENFORCEMENT of waste limits. It is unacceptable that government authorities, schools, businesses and other influential entities are left with the choice to waste outstanding amounts of recoverable material. This reality highlights the need to instil efficiency in our economy, minimising waste, creating green jobs and involving the public in the process.

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James Gabarretta – ADZ Member

State of Old historical buildings in Msida

The traditional fisherman’s village of Msida houses many old historical buildings, which were built during the late 1800s.  These buildings containing a high aesthetic and cultural value have been abandoned for many years. Many old buildings have already been demolished and the last few traditional village houses are in a very bad condition.  In fact many of them are completely abandoned and in some cases the ceiling also collapsed.

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These houses take up a considerable amount of land area which is currently wasted since they are unused.  Furthermore, Malta has a very high rate of empty housing with about 72,150 empty vacant properties.  This means that while we are over-developing our island and giving up important natural and agricultural land for the construction of more empty buildings, we are leaving old historical houses fall apart.

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ADZ Malta Green Youth proposes the restoration of these buildings, since they can be inhabited again. This will create jobs, improve the urban environment of Msida, increase property value of these buildings and preserve these historical buildings.  These factors will also lead to sustainability since the economic, social, environmental and cultural aspects are all taken into account and will be affected positively.  Also, many old buildings have gardens which are considered to be urban lungs, which makes them a vital resource which should not be destroyed or lost, especially in a polluted area such as Msida.

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It is important that we preserve and restore these buildings due to their historical importance.  Many of these houses are over 100 years old and are of cultural importance.  These buildings give the identity of the fishing village of Msida back.

 

Pascal Aloisio (ADZ Executive Member)