Parliament’s Blind Commitment To Tunnel Is Irresponsible

Parliament’s Blind Commitment To Tunnel Is Irresponsible

Following the approval of the Parliamentary motion which gave political backing to the Malta-Gozo tunnel last Wednesday, 13 organisations state that supporting an underwater tunnel before independent, serious and holistic studies are carried out and published is not only counterproductive but also irresponsible, since the benefits and impacts of the tunnel are not yet known.

The organisations note that, since this motion does not have legally binding implications, it simply represents an affirmation of the political commitment to building a tunnel. However, this is a blind commitment since, at this stage, crucial data and studies have not been presented, including the most basic fact of whether the tunnel will indeed reduce journey time between the two islands. It is questionable whether a relatively narrow tunnel with one lane in each direction, through which up to 9,000 cars will pass daily, will reduce the average journey time, when taking into consideration the capacity of the tunnel itself as well as higher congestion along the routes leading to and from it.

While the approved motion does refer to the undertaking and publication of studies, common sense dictates that a commitment to the tunnel option should only come after such studies are carried out and published, not before. Moreover, these studies should not have the tunnel option as their point of departure, but should objectively compare different options in terms of costs, impacts and efficacy, including for example, a fast-ferry service. Earlier this month, several organisations filed a judicial protest against the Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects to publish all studies pertaining to the proposed tunnel between Malta and Gozo. They also asked for a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) to be carried out as required by national and EU laws.

Whilst fully acknowledging the need to address mobility challenges experienced by Gozitan workers and students, an informed discussion about the best possible option to address such challenges can only start after studies comparing different options are carried out and published.

The 13 organisations endorsing this Press Statement are:

Din l-Art Ħelwa, Ramblers’ Association of Malta, Nature Trust (Malta), BirdLife Malta, Friends of the Earth Malta, Moviment Graffitti, The Archaeological Society Malta, Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar, Kamra tal-Periti, Futur Ambjent Wieħed, Isles of the Left, Bicycle Advocacy Group and Żminijietna – Voice of the Left


L-Impenn Għami tal-Parlament għall-Mina Huwa Irresponsabbli

Wara l-mozzjoni li tagħti appoġġ politiku għall-mina ta’ bejn Malta u Għawdex li ġiet approvata mill-Parlament nhar l-Erbgħa li għadda, 13-il organizzazzjonijiet jiddikjaraw li li jingħata appoġġ għal mina taħt il-baħar qabel ma jsiru u jiġu ppubblikati studji indipendenti, serji u ħolistiċi, mhux biss huwa kontroproduttiv imma wkoll irresponsabbli, għaliex il-benefiċċji u l-impatti tal-mina għadhom mhumiex magħrufa.

L-organizzazzjonijiet jinnutaw li peress li din il-mozzjoni m’għandhiex implikazzjonijiet ta’ rbit legali, din hija sempliċement affermazzjoni tal-impenn politiku li tinbena mina. Madankollu, dan huwa impenn għami peress li, f’dan l-istadju, data u studji kruċjali ma ġewx ippreżentati, inkluż l-aktar fatt bażiku dwar jekk il-mina hix se tkun qed tnaqqas il-ħin tal-vjaġġ bejn iż-żewġ gżejjer. Huwa dubjuż jekk mina relattivament dejqa, b’korsija waħda f’kull direzzjoni, li minnha se jgħaddu sa 9,000 karozza kuljum, hix se tnaqqas verament il-medja tal-ħin tal-vjaġġ, meta tikkunsidra l-kapaċità tal-istess mina kif ukoll il-konġestjoni tat-traffiku fit-toroq li jwasslu għaliha jew li jitilqu minnha.

Filwaqt li l-mozzjoni li ġiet approvata tirreferi għal studji li jridu jsiru u jiġu ppubblikati, is-sens komun jgħidlek li l-impenn lejn l-opzjoni tal-mina għandu jittieħed wara li jkunu saru u ġew ippubblikati dawn l-istudji, mhux qabel. Barra minn hekk, dawn l-istudji m’għandux ikollhom l-opzjoni tal-mina bħala l-punt tat-tluq, imma għandhom jikkumparaw b’mod oġġettiv opzjonijiet differenti fejn jidħlu spejjeż, impatti u effikaċja, inkluż, per eżempju, servizz ta’ katamaran veloċi. Iktar kmieni dan ix-xahar, diversi organizzazzjonijiet ippreżentaw protest ġudizzjarju kontra l-Ministru għat-Trasport, l-Infrastruttura u l-Proġetti Kapitali biex jippubblika l-istudji kollha li għandhom x’jaqsmu mal-proposta tal-mina bejn Malta u Għawdex. Huma talbu wkoll li jsir Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) kif inhu rikjest mil-liġijiet nazzjonali u tal-UE.

Filwaqt li wieħed jagħraf bis-sħiħ il-ħtieġa li jiġu ndirizzati l-isfidi ta’ mobbiltà li jesperjenzaw il-ħaddiema u l-istudenti Għawdxin, diskussjoni nfurmata dwar l-aħjar opzjoni possibbli biex jiġu ndirizzati dawn l-isfidi tista’ tibda biss wara li jsiru u jiġu ppubblikati studji li jqabblu opzjonijiet differenti.

It-13-il organizzazzjoni li qed jiffirmaw din l-Istqarrija Stampa huma:

Din l-Art Ħelwa, Ramblers’ Association of Malta, Nature Trust (Malta), BirdLife Malta, Friends of the Earth Malta, Moviment Graffitti, The Archaeological Society Malta, Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar, Kamra tal-Periti, Futur Ambjent Wieħed, Isles of the Left, Bicycle Advocacy Group u Żminijietna – Leħen ix-Xellug