Updated 7.19pm. Adds comments, details -

At least 10 NGOs are backing plans to hold a national protest against excessive construction and environmental degradation in September.

With a tagline ‘Iż-żejjed kollu żejjed’ [‘Enough is enough’], the September 7 protest initiative is being fronted by leftist group Moviment Graffitti, who plan on bringing together a coalition of civil society groups onto Valletta streets.  

On Friday, the NGO made a public call urging non-partisan civil society groups to join them on the day.

Moviment Graffitti's last protest dates back to June, when the group led a march in Guardamangia which ended outside the Malta Developers Association's offices. That protest was centred on the construction sector and came in reaction to a series of building collapses. 

A protest against cutting down trees to facilitate the Central Link road widening project organised by a separate group last week drew over 1,000 people to Attard.

A Times of Malta report revealing that 300 mature trees will be cut down to make way for a similar road project in Santa Luċija spurred online discussion about organising demonstrations.

An emerging movement

“There is a movement emerging at the moment, and it is getting stronger," prominent activist Andre Callus told Times of Malta.

"Our quality of life has reached a very low point and people within the community across the political spectrum are complaining. You can see it on social media, on the street, wherever you go. We need to direct this resistance, give it more shape and momentum, which is what we plan to do in this protest. Present a united front. By complaining alone, we are not going to get anywhere.”

When will the protest take place?

Protesters will meet outside the law courts at 10am on Saturday, September 7. People attending have been urged to bring placards.

Organisers are also planning a public meeting to discuss the protest and its aims. Details will be announced later in August, they said.

A poster for the Enough Is Enough demonstration includes a word cloud of complaints. Photo: Moviment GraffittiA poster for the Enough Is Enough demonstration includes a word cloud of complaints. Photo: Moviment Graffitti

What is the protest about?

Activists have listed five key issues which they want fixed:

  1. Existing planning policies, which they say are “designed around the interests of the few, instead of public wellbeing and environmental protection.” Activists want several policies radically changed.

  2. Environmental and planning authorities, which they argue “ are run with a blatant lack of transparency, responsibility and independence.” They want wholesale changes within the Planning Authority and its boards, the Environment and Resources Authority and Building Regulations Office.

  3. Large-scale projects, which they say should be frozen until a proper national development plan is in place.

  4. Road widening projects, which they say are short-sighted and should be reconsidered with a greater emphasis on alternative means of transport.

  5. Construction sector regulation and enforcement. Activists want a cap on the number of permits issued every year.

Do protests work?

“If people unite and show with great force the measure of their frustration, those in power will have no choice but to stop ignoring them. This is what leads to change,” said Mr Callus.

Protests have different purposes, claimed sociologist Michael Brigulgio. Some serve to raise awareness, and others form part of a chain of events that may help bring about changes in policy or political decisions.

One only needs to look at Front Harsien ODZ who organised the biggest ever environmental protest in 2015 resulting in a reduction of the footprint for development, to understand the impact protests can have, he added.

“The fact that more people are ready to express their opinions through protest is an important example of both environmental disgruntlement and civil society empowerment within Maltese democracy.”

Who can take part?

NGOs Din l-Art Ħelwa, Friends of the Earth, Nature Trust, Attard Residents Environmental Network, BirdLife, the Archaeological Society, Kamp Emerġenza Ambjent and Flimkien Għal Ambjent Aħjar have already said they will take part in the protest.

All other groups representing residents, workers, farmers, students or any other interest group can also register their support by emailing info@7settembru.org or by filling in the online form at the website www.7settembru.org .

Groups “affiliated with political parties” will be turned down, Moviment Graffitti specified.


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