Often criticised for encouraging car use, Infrastructure Malta CEO Frederick Azzopardi said his vision for Malta’s roads is actually one that would allow him to travel by bicycle for his daily needs.
Interviewed on TVM’s Insights this week, Azzopardi said the goal of major roadworks projects, such as Central Link and the upcoming Msida Creek flyovers, is to move traffic out of village cores and onto arterial roads.
He said that when this happens, the authorities will be able to embark on a campaign to encourage people to go about their daily chores in their town or village by bicycle or on foot.
“I don’t think enough is being done yet but that’s the direction we must go,” Azzopardi said. “Once we remove cars from village centres, I’ll be the first to start using the bicycle to go about chores in my village, Rabat.”
“Once I’ve grown used to using the bicycle in my village, maybe I’ll feel encouraged to start using it to go to work. So no, we’re not promoting the use of cars – we’re moving cars out of our village centres and promoting the use of alternative transport there.”
He said residents of Lija, Attard and Balzan have already noticed a significant drop in traffic passing through their village cores thanks to the Central Link project, which is now around 70% complete.
And he insisted that the quality of life for Msida residents will improve too following the controversial Creek project, which will add two flyovers to one of Malta’s most traffic-heavy areas.
“As it stands, [Msida Creek] is one of the most highly polluted areas n Malta because there’s so many pelican crossings and traffic lights which result in cars waiting in traffic for long periods of time, polluting the air while they do so,” he said. “If you remove the pelican crossing and traffic lights, the area’s air quality will improve significantly.”
Azzopardi said visuals of the project launched by environmental activists aren’t accurate as they exaggerate the impact of a new car park planned for the area.
“Presenting visuals is all well and good but let’s be truthful. They [sic] said we’re adding 100 new parking spots when we’re actually adding fewer than 40. They said we’re going to reduce the current green area when we’re actually going to increase it, from 6,700 to 7,000 square metres.”
“They said the black area in the visual will all become a car park when some of it will actually become a bus stop.”
“We know this area is a main bus route, and we could have left it as it is with buses blocking all the roads and people running across the roads to try and catch the bus, but we’re trying to make it safer.”
What do you make of the Infrastructure Malta CEO’s explanation?