Desperate for their concerns to be addressed, a group of 47 Luqa residents, farmers and landowners have published a letter they sent Prime Minister Robert Abela two weeks ago, appealing against a proposed flyover project.
In a statement to the press ahead of the Planning Authority’s decision on the project, the residents said Infrastructure Malta refused to hear them out while the Prime Minister didn’t even acknowledge their letter.
“We are thus asking you to publish our letter to the Prime Minister to bring to the public’s attention the meaningless and capricious destruction of our agricultural assets and of our locality of Luqa by inconsiderate Government functionaries,” they said.
The letter can be read in full here.
Announced last year, the proposal will see the roundabout connecting Qormi, Marsa, Luqa and Gudja replaced by a 220-metre flyover and underpass.
Meanwhile, an underpass connecting the Qormi and Marsa directions will flow right under the flyover and the current roundabout.
It will include new footpaths, bike lanes, bus stops and street lighting, but also the uprooting of 81 trees – 41 of which are transplantable – and the uptake of 2,375 square metres of land, most of which is private, agricultural land.
It has been approved by the Environment and Resources Authority, subject to certain conditions.
In their letter to Abela, the residents questioned the need for the flyover, arguing that traffic congestion in the area tends to be low, including during peak hours.
“Some of the signatories of this letter have had land taken away from them in the past, and we’re very concerned at how expropriations are taking place, particularly in light of media reports that some landowners are still awaiting compensation for the land they lost over the years,” they said.
“Some of us have yet to receive anything for the land that was taken from us when Triq il-Kunsill tal-Ewropa was rebuilt.”
“These roads will rob us of the possibility to enjoy our land as farmers and families, as well as damage the inheritance we can give to our children.”
They said farmers are currently using the land to feed their families with pure Maltese produce and questioned whether they’ll be adequately compensated for this blow to their livelihood.
The residents said their meetings with Infrastructure Malta made it clear that “the person in charge of the agency”, ostensibly a reference to CEO Fredrick Azzopardi or Infrastructure Minister Ian Borg, made it clear that the project will go ahead as they please.
“This is despite the fact that the land is ours and we haven’t given anyone permission to enter it. They didn’t give us any indication of the compensation we’ll receive, such as land somewhere else.”
They said Infrastructure Malta officials tried to justifying the development by pointing out that it will include the installation of bike lanes, but countered that there’s always been space for bike lanes along the current road.
“We all know that road widening which took place in recent years always took place to accommodate cars.”
“We are therefore asking you, in the spirit of good faith, to immediately intervene in this issue and defend our interests as citizens and voters.”
“We hope we receive a response from you, seeing as all the doors we’ve knocked on – from the Planning Authority to Infrastructure Malta – have been closed.”