The ambulance is held up by a parked car in St Julian’s.The ambulance is held up by a parked car in St Julian’s.

Cars parked legally in a narrow St Julian’s street obstructed an ambulance for over half an hour yesterday morning as an elderly man in need of medical attention was forced to wait.

Resident Mark Grech told Times of Malta the ambulance was called to St Elias Street when his grandfather suffered shortness of breath.

The vehicle, however, was unable to get to the man’s home due to a number of cars occupying ‘controversial’ parking spaces in the street’s narrowest section.

The parking spaces, which residents said caused several similar incidents in the past, effectively make it impossible for larger vehicles, such as the ambulance, to go through.

Mr Grech said the ambulance crew eventually had to drive around and reverse up the road from the other end, against the flow of traffic.

The parking spaces in St Elias Street, a narrow road in the St Julian’s village core, were removed in August 2013 after repeated complaints but repainted some two months later despite an official letter of complaint sent to the local council by about 30 residents.

“A solution that was devised with residents’ interests in mind has been reversed, leaving us with risk of damage to property or loss of life,” John Vassallo, a local resident, said.

The ambulance crew eventually had to drive around and reverse up the road from the other end

A number of parked cars and the facades of houses were damaged by vehicles attempting to manoeuvre the narrow gap.

Dr Vassallo said that, on previous occasions, a fire engine and an electrical repair vehicle had both found themselves stranded in the road in emergency situations.

He said the situation was all the more unacceptable because the parking places at the upper end of the road could easily be replaced with the same number at the lower end, where the road was much wider.

Another resident, Chris Delicata, said the authorities had turned a blind eye to the problem since it began.

In an e-mail to Mr Delicata dated November 2013, Transport Malta chairman James Piscopo said he was confident that “the proper balance between intro­ducing parking spaces and the allowance for enough room for ambulances to pass [had] effectively been reached”.

When contacted, the mayor of St Julian’s, Peter Bonello, who was responsible for the initial decision to scrap the parking placers, said he was not yet aware of the incident involving the ambulance and requested that questions be sent to him via e-mail. However, the questions sent remained unanswered at the time of writing.

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us