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An Underground Tunnel And Millions In Road Investment Later, Malta Is Still Flooding

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It’s the same old story, year after year. September rain inevitably comes thundering down on our tiny congested island and a deluge of chaos ensues.

Flooded roads, power cuts, drainage overflowing and the occasional damaged house or shop are just some of the standard occurrences one can expect around this time of year. However, this recurrent problem is not unknown to the Maltese government, or the European Commission for that matter. So why does it continue to happen, without fail, every single year ?

In 2014, the Labour government undertook a national flood abatement project funded by the EU which cost a total of 54 million euro at the time. The project involved the construction of some 16 kilometres of mostly underground tunnels that collect rainwater and channel it away from flood-prone areas. These include the usual suspects like Balzan, Lija, Birkirkara, Msida and Gzira amongst others.

The European Commission proudly boasts on its website that thanks to this project and various efforts by the NFRP (EU-funded National Flood Relief Project) Malta “benefits from a network of underground tunnels, canals and bridges that provide the Maltese islands with proper storm-water drainage.” Anyone who was on the island yesterday or for the past seven years since the project was completed, knows that this is very, very far from the truth.

Beyond that, in 2019, Infrastructure Malta led by Minister Ian Borg, had also commenced a €700 million, seven-year national investment to upgrade the quality of Malta’s residential roads – fulfilling an electoral promise made back in 2017.  This project was supposed to improve the quality, safety, efficiency and sustainability Maltese roads.

Meanwhile this scene on Maltese roads pictured yesterday screams anything but ‘safety’.

Borg had some less than satisfactory responses when asked by MaltaToday reporters to comment on Malta’s chronic flooding problem, arguing that yesterday’s downpour was a particularly heavy one and that blocked water culverts in some roads still do not have systems in place due to the fact that roadworks are still ongoing. He also mentioned that authorities would be looking into the root of the cause immediately.

In light of the aforementioned this newsroom has reached out to the Minister Ian Borg with the following questions:

  • Why is the €54 million tunnel funded by the EU not doing it’s job ?
  • How are new roads, with €700 million worth of investment behind them, built over past year, still not equipped to handle the rainfall?
  • Are there any proper drainage systems installed to try and counteract this issue?
  • Is the excessive flooding a result of over-development and the chopping of trees, which would typically absorb water?
  • Does Infrastructure Malta acknowledge that this is a pressing issue, and is there any strategy in place to address it?

This article will be updated with a response from the minister if he accepts to answer.

What can be done to solve Malta’s chronic flooding issue ?

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