Luke, the Evangelist, described our ancestors as barbarians after his traumatic shipwreck ordeal on our shores. In those days, nations which failed to master the Greek or Latin languages were considered uncivilised.

The term ‘barbarian’ took a more disturbing significance in 410AD. The Visigoths then rampaged and pillaged Imperial Rome, and vandalised all they found in their sight.

In today’s parlance, the term is associated with those who are uncultured, demolishers, lack environmental sensitivities and act as though they are still troglodytes.

If the sacred writer had to revisit us, would he still consider some of us barbarians? The likelihood of drawing the same conclusion about certain fellow brethren is real, although now for different reasons beyond linguistic proficiencies.

Although some particular developers are committed to sustainable projects and have built aesthetically pleasing projects, sadly a growing number of other developers, their enablers and minders are acting as barbarians on the rampage.

Maybe some find my assessment abrasive.

One only has to glance around to witness a systematic demolition of our national/local heritage and patrimony, alarming increase of urban overdevelopment, mega unsustainable developments and the cementation of our island.

Although St. Julian’s, Sliema and Swieqi areas are still the prime targets of this blitz, the increasing building agitation can be attested all over the island, even in the remotest parts of our island.

READ: db Group's plans for St George's Bay have Pembroke residents worried

Literally, no stone is being left unturned. No location is being spared. In the not so distant past, domes and other aesthetically pleasing edifices had branded our national skyline, giving our localities a distinctive proud identity. Nowadays, tower cranes and poor high-rising phallic-like towers dominate our blue skies.

Mega projects that were part of the Paceville master plan... are now being approved one by one. 

All this is rapidly changing our architectural landscape. Malta is turning into one big construction site.

Our Stone Age ancestors put together mega temples for us to visit, the Knights of St. John left magnificent auberges, churches and palaces to admire, the British left appeasing colonial town houses. What will our legacy be to our future generations? Dubaification of Malta?

Recently, the Chamber of Architects and Civil Engineers expressed serious concerns about the alarming rate at which Malta’s unique built heritage was being lost. They are not alone. Many active citizens are genuinely concerned.

We are not against development per se. We acknowledge that sustainable development has a role in facilitating the economic growth of our island. We are also aware of the domino effect that such developments have.

We also acknowledge that sadly this overdevelopment problem has long been coming.  Our honest objection is against unsustainable developments, the construction dependency and the lack of proper social/physical infrastructure to sustain such endeavours.

The Nationalist Party needs to choose on which side of the fence it wants to sit

We firmly hold that we cannot continue taking a piecemeal approach. A national holistic master plan involving all stakeholders is clearly a must.

The recent approval of Mercury House and Villa Rosa – Cresta Quay projects in an already overdeveloped location are just two examples of the ‘state of barbarism’ we are in.

The irony is that while these mega projects were part of the Paceville master plan, which was discredited after public uproar, they are now being approved one by one.  Soon the db proposal over the ITS site will follow. Very sly approach.

The barbarians are not alone.

It is pretty clear to the unblinkered that the government is not only accommodating, discrediting and side-lining objectors, NGOs and other critics but is acting as an efficient enabler/minder.

The government is determined to massage the greed of particular fat cats with little or no consideration for the common good. The common good is becoming a secondary, nuisance and a trivial issue compared with the greedy urges of some. For the greedy mind, there is no limit and so one compulsively demands more and more. The greedy minded is oblivious to the stark fact that when one’s time is up, one will return to mother earth empty handed and barefooted as on the day he was born.

The government has also astutely dismantled the environmental and heritage watchdog institutions so as to guarantee that the sun continues to shine on those who seek to make hay while the sun shines. This reinforces Joe Public’s perception that the government is in bed with particular fat cats, who in return oblige. Scratch my back and I scratch yours.

Sadly, it seems that the government is not alone either. The Nationalist Party who until recent past tried hard to redeem itself from past environmental blunders when in office, has voted in favour of both the Mercury House and Villa Rosa mega projects.

This came as a surprise and left many perplexed in view of the arguments/stand put forward by the party during the Paceville master plan debacle. Consistency is pivotal to credibility.

The Nationalist Party needs to choose on which side of the fence it wants to sit.  One cannot run with the hare and hunt with the hounds.

Taking the attitude of the three monkeys will only get the mickey taken out of us. Others prefer not to care as long as this is not their back yard. Little do they realise that at this alarming rate, their backyards will soon be in the shade too.

We need to choose where to stand.  We need to stand up to be counted.

I and many others choose to stand on the side of sustainability, aesthetics and civilisation.

Not everyone is a barbarian.

Albert Buttigieg is deputy mayor of St. Julian’s and a Nationalist Party candidate.

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