Railway carriage and embankment restoration denied funding by government

It looks like vital projects to conserve our heritage are not given any importance.  A good example is the railway carriage which was formerly located at the Old Railway Station Garden in Birkirkara and the railway embankment, the last remaining stretch of the railway line, in Attard.

The carriage was placed in the garden more than 30 years ago.  Over the years, the 3rd class railway carriage has suffered severe damage due to continuous exposure to the elements as well as vandalism.  It was one of several carriages which were used between 1883 and 1931.

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A few weeks back, the carriage has been moved from the garden to a safer place for restoration.  This was a vital step for conserving this relic of the Malta Railway.  However, the government’s decision not to fund the project is almost heartbreaking.  What makes matters worse is that this is the only surviving carriage of the historic Malta Railway.

We from ADŻ Malta Green Youth are disappointed about this decision.  We congratulate AD Councillor in Attard, Ralph Cassar, who has worked with other colleagues on the Attard Local Council to prepare the groundwork so that the railway embankment is returned to the community.  Our cultural heritage should be protected and not left rotting.  Considering significant sums of money have been spent on unnecessary projects such as the €59 million project for widening the
coast road, the €42,000 required for restoring the carriage and the additional €200,000 for embankment are not a big deal.

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Therefore we urge the government to rethink this decision and to allocate taxpayer’s money wisely for important projects which are required to protect our heritage.  The Malta Railway is such an example, and since almost anything related to this era has either been abandoned or destroyed, it is even more important that the remaining relics are conserved and restored.

Useful links:

http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20150129/local/updated-historic-railway-carriage-moved-to-safe-place-for-restoration.553808

http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20150320/local/no-funds-for-maltas-last-surviving-railway-carriage.560615

Pascal Aloisio (ADŻ Malta Green Youth Executive Member)

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The removal of trees at Castille

Most of us know Castille with the small roundabout and its trees.  However, all this greenery is gone now.  We can now enjoy more concrete and tarmac!

While the decision to make the area more pedestrian friendly and the idea of a more open space is a good thing, the trees should not have been removed.  While almost everywhere in the world cities are working to become greener and more environmentally friendly by planting more trees, we are doing the exact opposite in Malta.

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The first thing many of us realise when we enter the capital city is the lack of greenery.  The removal of these trees has added to this lack of greenery, where we can now observe additional concrete and tarmac.  Many people were against this decision.  In fact in 2006, a poll by the Times of Malta showed that a vast majority of respondents were against the removal of these trees.  4,146 voted against, while only 651 respondents were in favour of removing the trees.

Although the trees are said to have been moved to other places in Malta, therefore not suffering total destruction, they should have at least been re-planted around the square.  This would have led to open space and the greenery formerly found in the area would have remained there.

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ADZ Malta Green Youth strongly opposes this decision.  Trees are vital for cities, especially in such a place as Valletta, which already lacks a significant amount of greenery.  Therefore we suggest that new plants and trees should be planted, at least around the new open space.  Moreover, smaller trees could also be planted in large pots across the new concrete square.  A good example is Msida, where olive trees and several other small plants have been planted in large pots around the entire town.  This action significantly improved the visual aspect of Msida and the same implies for Valletta.

Useful links:

http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20060810/local/save-the-trees-of-castille-online-poll-says.44979

Pascal Aloisio (ADŻ Malta Green Youth Executive Member)

Mystique: A relic of the Marquis Scicluna

Mystique, an old and strange building, lies in the locality of Madliena.  Built by the Marquis Scicluna in the 1960s, it was first used as a residence followed by the transformation into a nightclub.  It is known to have been one of the most popular nightclubs of its time.

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However, what is really striking is that it was designed and constructed in the Marquis’s own style of architecture.  Moreover, it was built from stones of Maltese buildings which were destroyed during the Second World War.

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The building is known for its unusual or rather creative and wonderful architecture.  It almost has a unique style and includes several features such as glass mosaics which decorate the walls throughout the building.  Some old furniture and other accessories may also be observed.

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Although so unusual, this building was not included as a protected building and is currently in an abandoned state.  Due to its unusual design as well as the fact that the building was built by the Marquis Scicluna, many architects have urged the need for its preservation.

Interestingly, recently plans have been made to transform the place into a hotel boutique.  Although this could be a relatively good proposal, it can also have negative effects.  We hope that if any plans are made, these will be done in a sustainable manner.  In other words, nothing should be demolished, removed or damaged.

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ADZ Malta Green Youth also urges the need for preserving this magnificent building not only due to its architectural and artistic style, but also since it represents a part of Maltese history in some way.  All the stones of this building are part of old memories, namely those experienced during WWII, which were in turn used to build this unique sculpture.  Therefore Mystique should be refurbished and preserved since this building has its very own story to tell.

Useful links:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=topIs0_2gSk

Pascal Aloisio (ADŻ Malta Green Youth Executive Member)

ISIS – the unreal threat!

We have been hearing about ISIS or ISIL or Daesh or IS or whatever they call themselves nowadays till our minds have been infected by this piece of news. Let us start with the facts why you should worry more about what your kids do at night, in light of the #GirlsInvasion saga of a certain DJ convicted of child sex abuse, or the rampant destruction of the environment than a threat like IS clearly designed to spook and to entertain the far right and those who find pleasure in creating chaos (yes, people like that do exist!).

For convenience we will call these guys ISIS – which means the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria as currently it stretches from Syria to Iraq and currently is losing territory and losing a lot of manpower from coalition air-strikes which also involves Arab states including Jordan which seems to be the most dedicated in eradicating ISIS ever since they burnt one of their pilots in a cage while still alive. Their demise is inevitable and their stretch of power is intermittent as many powers within Syria and Iraq want to see these monsters dead – the YPG, Kurdish militias, what’s left of the Assad regime, the West, various Iraqi brigades and the Iraqi army are doing their utmost to remove ISIS and facts on the ground show that ISIS can longer expand.

ISIS also lacks the religious support of 1.6 billion Muslims and of the ulema or religious scholars of Islam. ISIS which proclaims that the Caliph of Muslims is Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi is amir al mu’minin or commander of the faithful when scholarly he is not: to be a Caliph you have to appointed by the Prophet Muhammed, you have to have 100% approval from Muslim scholars and leaders, noble and pious and have military and civilian support – Al Baghdadi has none of these and ISIS is invalid even in Islamic jurispendence and ISIS are no different from Mexican drug cartels who also kill thousands every year and that ISIS thrive mainly on illicit oil, sex and drugs and ransom money – not to mention their leadership had no Islamic training, where “deviant” (according to Yusuf Qaradawi – a Pope like figure in Islam) and ISIS are merely a crime syndicate using faith and fear to control whatever they have left in their territories and they heavily rely on Sunni Muslim tribes who are slowly losing their faith in ISIS as well in light of their crimes against Muslims and humanity. This information surely shows why ISIS is not a threat in any sphere of combat – their economy is in tatters, their firepower is diminished and they are deeply unpopular just like any criminal organization on the run.

Lately in good old Malta, like every year, ISIS seems to be the hot topic of 2015 – replacing Ebola for some reason in 2014. One of the greatest assets of ISIS is media and in case of Malta – many Maltese have swallowed ISIS propaganda of controlling half of Libya (which is totally false) and their target is Malta; swallowed hook line and sinker. ISIS has failed like in Syria and Iraq to establish anything solid in Libya. Libya, since the removal of the dictator Qaddafi, has been loosely controlled by a coalition of militias – based on tribal and regional lines with various economic interests. ISIS cannot compete in an environment that is governed by other militias that are 100x the size of any ISIS militant group – in fact according the Libya Herald (2015), the Al-Battar Brigade consisting of a few hundred men (mainly foreigners) are allied with their so-called Caliph and the coalitions of Libyan militias who number a total of 680,000 members reject and hate ISIS like the rest of the Libyan people. Albeit, ISIS can cause huge problems such as bombing and kidnappings that can destabilize Libya but control of this country is far fetched. They do however have a presence in Derna and some areas in Sirt, which is home to a number of Gaddafi loyalists and criminal organisations and thus wherever ISIS try to establish a base they find competition from others.

The one million euro question is this: is ISIS a threat to Malta and Europe? No. They barely scratch the surface in Libya, they lack resources and have no intention to invade anyone especially Malta. ISIS right now is struggling and any attack on Europe would seal its demise forever – imagine the armies of Italy, France and the might of the United States reigning hellfire on ISIS. Just like we fear them on an unfounded basis, ISIS fear us because the military and economic might is not on their side but on the side of the West and its allies! ISIS do not have missile capabilities, do not have jets, do not have any bases in Libya (at least ones that are worthy of being called a base) and Malta is not on their agenda. No ISIS militant is going to cross with a dinghy to Malta and spend 18 months in detention with nothing and risk of being exposed just to attack tiny Malta! Social media continues to fan this idea of an ISIS invasion when none of it, even logically, is true. ISIS rumours is what ISIS wants and what Malta cannot afford: can you imagine the amount of people who put off their travels to Malta because of rumours and can damage tourism? People seem to forget that their posts on Facebook pages are read globally by anyone who is anyone planning to travel to Malta. I have already given solid facts why ISIS anywhere is not a threat and I hope this writing will suffice in knowing that ISIS are a bunch of crazy people who use fear and media to make them look big.

Nizar Hingari (ADŻ Malta Green Youth PRO)