These are the words of a sticker seen recently on the back window of a car, which could speak for all drivers. Last month, asked its readers to write in about their pothole peeves. Almost 500 of you obliged. A day later, Transport Malta announced it would be patching up more than 60 roads across Malta. What has been done? Bertrand Borg reports.

Armed with a selection of readers’ comments and Transport Malta’s list of patchworks, we set off on a circuit of southern Maltese roads. Sure enough, there were evident signs of patching along Marsascala Road in Marsascala and Hompesch Road in Żabbar.

Pothole damage caused by the rains resulted in a 25 per cent increase in breakdown calls- RMF

Ganu Street in Birkirkara was something of a mixed bag: the road had clearly been patched up in places, but that was scant consolation for a road clearly in need of a complete makeover.

As we charted a northward course we came across clear patching along roads in Balzan, Lija and Iklin. We ticked several roads off the Transport Malta list. So far, so good.

Things went a little pear-shaped on the Birkirkara side of Valley Road, when a cavernous pothole seemingly ignored by Transport Malta road engineers sent a violent shudder coursing through the car.

Roads in Naxxar, Mosta and San Ġwann on TM’s list had also been patched up – some more successfully than others.

Birkirkara Road, San Ġwann was a good case in point. Patching had levelled off the most lunar of breaches, but there was little to be done for the road’s general state of disrepair, with uneven surfaces sending cars hiccupping up and down.

It was much the same story while driving along the Msida end of Valley Road. Dark, smooth strips of asphalt pocketed parts of the road – evidence of recent patching works – but the road’s multiple undulations sent cars rocking about nevertheless.

Transport Malta told The Times that it prioritised patching works based on a technical officer’s evaluation of a pothole’s size, danger and importance of the road in question.

Money is undoubtedly an issue, with a TM spokesman admitting that “the available budgets for maintenance do not always permit the repair of every defect”. This latest flurry of repair works – almost all the patching works promised by Transport Malta appeared to have been done – came in the wake of last month’s angry downpours.

Pothole damage caused by the rains had resulted in a 25 per cent increase in breakdown calls, RMF managing director Patrick Rausi said.

“We had a number of people calling us up with double punctures, with a single pothole ruining both a front and back tyre. We also get much more serious damage. The situation’s totally out of control.”

In several countries, courts have forced local authorities to fork out compensation money to motorists whose vehicles have been damaged by potholes. Compensation runs into the millions of euros, with Scottish authorities, for example, having paid £1.7 million to drivers between 2006 and 2011.

Local courts have been less generous with purse strings, although earlier this month a man who suffered permanent disabilities following a pothole-induced car crash was awarded €94,000.

The court ruling found that Malta’s transport authority was duty-bound to ensure public roads were kept in a good condition.

Significant stretches of Malta’s aging road infrastructure are being upgraded to acceptable standards, also thanks to EU funds.

But, as we juddered our way back to Valletta along fractured roads, it was hard to not feel sympathy for the sheer scale of Transport Malta’s task.

What about Gozo?

Many readers were quick to point out that Transport Malta’s list of roads due to be patched did not include any Gozitan roads. The reason, as a Transport Malta official soon explained, was that the upkeep of Gozitan roads is the responsibility of the Ministry for Gozo.

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