Updated 5.55pm with directive

A national government directive stopping councils from interventing in sorting out waste collection teething problems and shortcomings is “ridiculous and illegal” and should be condemned, the Nationalist Party said on Wednesday.

The collection of waste was standardised nationwide as of January 2, with responsibility for the collection passing from the councils to regional committees.

As part of that change, waste collection schedules were changed, leading to what one mayor described as "teething problems". 

Directive issued on Wednesday

In a statement, the PN said the government on Wednesday issued a directive ordering councils to not get involved in sorting out problems arising from the new system.

The directive, which Times of Malta has seen, informs councils that they are forbidden from taking any initiatives related to waste collection, "including additional services or services separate from the national schedule."

"Should any council be found to be spending money on such initiatives, this will be considered illegal expenditure and councils will face legal action," it concludes.

The directive was signed by Natalino Attard, who serves as director-general for local government. 

The PN branded the directive “ridiculous and illegal”, noting that the Local Government Act listed waste collection and its removal, as well as cleanliness, as one of councils' main functions.

Some councils, the PN said, had taken the initiative of paying private contractors to collect waste that was left outside on the wrong days, to prevent it from festering. Those councils were now being punished for that decision. 

Rather than threatening councils that wish to keep their localities clean, the government should provide efficient waste collection solutions that do not inconvenience residents and the commercial community, it said. 

It also criticised what it said was a lack of effective communication with the public before the radical change to waste collection was made, leading to ongoing confusion.

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