A victim of its own success

No one in their right mind would wake up in the morning of a shock electoral result and avoid comment on what could have been the causes and where to from here.

Straight from the outset: this is no apologetic exercise. The Journal has gained the reputation of a Labour-inclined electronic outlet but with an obvious disposition for free and fair comment. No one in their right mind would wake up in the morning of a shock electoral result and avoid comment on what could have been the causes and where to from here.

Labour is a victim of its own success. Since way back in 2013 (it already seems so long ago, particularly to the new voters) it has driven the national economy at a superhighway speed, significantly leading to pratically zero unemployment, an incredible social mobility, awesome infrastructure, a flurry of enhanced social benefits, and increased foreign investment, among other notable achievements.

So what went wrong? How could a nation that has been having it so good suddenly start strutting its feet to send SOS signals to those who have made the new, affluent Malta that we have today?

The Nationalist Opposition had practically no say in all of this. There simply wasn’t a swing towards it, a fact which they would – should, really – be seriously studying if they truly seek to be relevant contenders for the running of the country in three years’ time. A miserable mathematician, I will not go into figures, but there were signals for the two big parties that need to be addressed immediately if they don’t want the tempo to switch from foxtrot to the one-marble dance routine of the 60s.

Two core issues

The two core issues that are casting growing shadows on all of Labour’s wonderful work at the helm are mindless over-construction and the traffic chaos. People just have the perception that both are not being prioritised enough, some even pinning the disquiting state of many people’s mental health to both.

I write from an ongoing painful experience. A huge new addition of hundreds of flats being erected across from us on top of another huge complex of flats has been causing chaos. Residents have to withstand daily excruciating noise from squeaking tower cranes over their heads while they eat, have their siesta and possibly make love, roaming clouds of dust hitting the window panes, and surrounding traffic deviations and disruptions. If anyone thinks this is over-reacting by people in the area, they should come and spend a couple of days with us. We have a boxful of pain relievers.

So should it all stop? Good heavens, no. But it is time to rethink the whole process of issuing permits. In my case, I should add that on the pipeline very soon, also near us, is a new huge project scheduled to begin, even before the current one is completed. That will make us all barmy and calling for those men in white to come and take us away. Drama apart, it is high time the management of community-disturbing projects are first discussed with those who would suffer the most from the disruption of their everyday lives. Don’t mention the Planning Authority’s public consultation procedure. It has long proved unworkable, unfair, and rather than authoritative, authoritarian.

Community-disturbing projects need to be addressed in measures of square kilometres and durations. The time has come for only one project to start in one confined area, the next one within the same radius – with all its cranes, presumptuous contractors, and associated cacophonies – would have to wait its turn.

The traffic issue is a lot more complex. Free public transport, including ferry services, better road infrastructure, and encouragement of car and bike sharing have all been genuine attempts, but the problem will always boil down to one thing: too many cars in too small an island. A free and efficient public transport would have solved the issue, but it simply cannot manouvre properly through the chaos, the congestions, and the obnoxious regularity of accidents and contraventions.

So another means of public transport? Inevitable, say most people. An efficient metro system connecting all major urban areas served by electric mini-buses to reach the villages in the zone could do the trick. I for one, would give up my driving. Given the territorial size and the softness of the rock, the metro may be deemed easier to undertake, or not? A few years back the Maltese public was actually regaled with an impressive video demonstration of a Malta Metro project design, with people quickly expressing support for it. Nothing of it or any other such projects was ever heard again.

People do not forget. They need to know the growing traffic crisis IS being addressed and there are no simple ways to do it except by something as huge and fund-guzzling as the Metro. To know this is not all hogwash would already be a relief. If the Gozo tunnel is no longer on the national agenda (I say thank goodness for that, if we truly want to keep Gozo as an island of villages), the traffic madness should be. Again, it’s all part of this mental health issue.

Labour’s win on Sunday was testament to its resilience transfused into it by loyal working families, but it was obvious the patience of many others had run dry.

A win is a win, is a win, but pop up your ears everyone.

Funny D-day scenario

It is an established fact the Soviets, today’s Russians, caused eighty per cent of German losses in World War II. They also suffered 30 times more than the other allies put together. But guess who got invited to the recent D-Day commemorations instead of Russia? The Chancellor of Germany. One had to laugh.

British Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and US President Joe Biden at the D-Day commemoration (Photo: Abaca Press/Alamy Live News/PA Wire)
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