Transport and Infrastructure Minister Ian Borg has said that the country needed to be able to have a mature discussion about a mass-transport solution, warning that the current level of debate did not bode well for the future of any project.
Borg was speaking during an extensive interview with Lovin Malta CEO Christian Peregin where he was asked why the government continued to pursue outdated and car-centred policies on transport.
“I’m not short-sighted…but consider that you’ve just asked me 10 questions and all of social media is in overdrive, about a single road in Dingli that isn’t more than 30 metres long, because one tree is going to be removed, then let’s leave the nice books about the metro on my desk. When I retire as a minister I’ll take them home and file them and I can show them to my children and grandchildren and I’ll be able to tell them that once I was going to try and implement this project,” Borg said.
The minister revealed that the government was exploring the possibility of having a metro system with 25 stations in 25 village squares, but warned that such a project would come at a cost.
“This includes archaeological remains, the removal of trees, it will also mean an increase in trees and an increase in open spaces, but it will also mean a change in the way we live, changes to how expensive transport is,” Borg said.
He explained that such a project would take between 10 to 15 years for the first line to be completed.
“It doesn’t depend on a minister or Prime Minister or any one political party. Everyone in this country wants his land to be developed but doesn’t want his neighbours to be developed. Everyone is like this in this country, even those who protest.”
Borg was also asked about the controversy surrounding a pool he had applied to build at his Dingli home.
“I think I’m the only person who has two permits for the same thing in the same place,” he said, adding that he had no regrets.
“I think that if you have a right to something you shouldn’t be denied it. I didn’t want to deny my family the opportunity to have something they had a right to. Love me or hate me, but that is the way I am, if I’m right I want what is mine.”
Borg went on to offer assurances to those who doubt his, and the government’s, integrity. He said that the only controversy he had personally found himself in was that related to his pool.
As for the government, he said that people would probably agree that the Labour government had done a lot for the country, had understood and learnt from its works, and more importantly still had a lot to offer the country.
Asked about the main difference between Prime Minister Robert Abela and his predecessor Joseph Muscat, Borg said that Abela was more open to letting ministers come forward with their own ideas and work.
“Joseph was comfortable after having had five years in Opposition, he didn’t have a pandemic to deal with and he had his plan that he wanted to implement.”
Both, he said, were much better than PN leaders Lawrence Gonzi, Simon Busuttil, Adrian Delia and Bernard Grech.
What did you make of the minister’s comments?