Public support for the Central Link road upgrade project appears to have dipped significantly in recent months, with a survey indicating it is now only backed by a small majority.
A survey published by Illum today shows that 51.65% of people are in favour of the project, while 19.52% are against it and 28.83% don’t know where they stand.
Infrastructure Malta CEO Fredrick Azzopardi said the survey reconfirms Malta’s support to the project but that the roads agency is open to sustainable suggestions on how to increase its benefits for residents and road users.
Today's @Illumonline study reconfirms #Malta's support to #CentralLinkProject. As it gets ready to implement this @pa_malta approved project, @InfraMalta continues to meet stakeholders and consider sustainable suggestions to increase its benefits for residents and road users. pic.twitter.com/pybM7y0oME
— Fredrick Azzopardi (@F_Azzopardi) August 11, 2019
However, while this is the case, it only tells one side of the story.
A social impact assessment conducted by Prof. Marvin Formosa last year found that 70% of the public was in favour of the project. Majority support was found in all of Malta’s six regions, most particularly in Gozo, where 93% said they were in favour.
Transport Minister Ian Borg recently used this survey to back up his argument that the vast majority of the public supports the Central Link project.
However, the Illum survey shows that support has dipped in every region. In a twist of fate, Gozo is now the region which supports the project the least, with only 36% of respondents stating they are in favour.
Support in the Southern Harbour is at 61.3% (down from 85%), in the Northern Harbour at 52.8% (down from 64%), in the South-East at 58.6% (down from 89%), in the West at 50.7% (down from 58%) and in the North at 38.7% (down from 59%).
The Central Link project is intended to alleviate traffic in one of Malta’s hotspots but concern over it has grown in recent months as more people grew aware that it will involve the uprooting of hundreds of trees and the take-up of a large tract of agricultural land.
Infrastructure Malta has pledged to compensate for the destroyed trees by planting a higher number of mature trees in the region.