Left: A construction site in Old Railway Road, Right: The state of the pavement in the street
Once a tranquil street, Old Railway Road has become one of the busiest roads in the village of Balzan. Stretching from St. Aloysius College to the Corinthia Palace Hotel, this road manages to cater for a variety of facilities offered within close proximity of residential dwellings and offices. From sports halls to large offices, developments have been sprouting faster than ever. Due to this sudden surge of investment, the street has evolved in an arterial road, bustling with vehicles of all shapes and sizes.
Being a resident myself, together with my family, we have gone through countless internet and power outages all due to the lack of awareness coming from builders, contractors and authorities who are responsible for assuring that such inconveniences are avoided to neighbouring properties. Such amateur building methods are evident to anyone who decides to pass through the entire length of the street.
The state of the road itself is another nightmare, yet countless drivers prefer to pass through. The length of the road has never been given an inch of tarmac ever since I have lived here, but repetitive patching here and there just seems to do it in 2018.
The most recent of these hustled developments is happening just a few blocks down, where a once beautiful corner terrace house has been sold for a development that will cater nine units of residential space, together with two levels of underground parking facilities. Dismantling of apertures and emptying of the dwelling took around a week to complete, however the actual demolition of the structure was done within a day or two causing clouds of dust to block the section of the street.
After consulting with architects, a legal document which states the Method of Works (including demolition of the existing dwelling) is prepared by the architect in charge of the development and sent directly to the Building Regulation Office which is responsible for approving such documents. Furthermore, no health and safety sign is located on site and no perimeter barriers have been erected since the start of the project. So I question how the OHSA and the respective authorities have allowed such works to proceed. Is there any monitoring being done?
Neither the local council nor the Planning Authority has ever respected the history of the street that once paved the way for a commuter train which travelled from Valletta to Mdina and back. Yet the residents that live along it remain oblivious to the state they are living in. If maintaining a street means patching it up once every year then Transport Malta needs a drastic upgrade in their methods of infrastructural works. Regeneration of such a street means resurfacing the entire length of the street with tarmac and repaving a pavement which respects the needs of pedestrians and passers-by. I have heard countless accounts of people tripping in broken paving and exposed plumbing pipes.
Every time I pass through that street, it seems as though I have been teleported to some third world country where negligence has become a way of life. The local council and residents of Balzan need a major wake-up call and change in attitude, as we are losing the identity of this once humble village that was full of character and self-respect… or have we lost it all already?