We are living in a Malta where bullies and their arrogance reign supreme, and where a 17-year-old apparently has no qualms about running over a policeman.

It has long been coming, with the Planning Authority slowly closing its eyes bit by bit to blatant illegalities during the past PN administrations.

With the rise of Joseph Muscat to power, the floodgates have been opened wide. Certain restaurants and cafés take up public squares and pavements for their tables and chairs; certain shops occupy numerous parking slots with their vans and cars parked there 24/7. 

Who cares about the poor 80-year-old resident or the expectant mother having to navigate their tortuous ways through the occupied square, pavement or street?

These people have interpreted Muscat’s battle cry of “We are pro-business” as a signal that they can do whatever they want, because they are the ‘kings’ who are bringing about the macroeconomic growth of our country.

And, apart from empty words, Muscat does nothing to enforce the law and defend the normal, honest, law-abiding residents.

The power of the blackmail vote of certain lobbies is so strong that a democratically elected government – with the total connivance of the Opposition – just changes laws in a matter of a few hours to satisfy these lobbies.

The most recent examples of blackmail were those of the pyrotechnics lobby and the band club lobby. In order to accommodate the former, Parliament just decreased the safe distance from residences. In order to appease the latter, Parliament introduced a backdated law whereby band clubs are not considered to be on a par with normal citizens when it comes to altering rented property.

But who cares about the safety of resi-dents and about the natural rights of property owners?

Of course, the biggest culprits are property developers.

The situation has long been deteriorating, but with Muscat in power, the problems have skyrocketed.

These people have interpreted Joseph Muscat’s battle cry of ‘We are pro-business’ as a signal that they can do whatever they want

The writing was on the wall already before the 2013 election, when Anġlu Farrugia could not take it any longer and spilled the beans: Muscat had put the Labour HQ’s fourth floor at the disposal of developer Sandro Chetcuti, who was busy organising meetings between Joseph, developers and contractors.

The deal was sealed: freedom “to make hay while the sun shines” in exchange for the vote of the building business lobby (and not only the vote).

The end result of this Faustian deal is the continuous and endless rape of our country, with the noise, dust and shade of 30- or 40-storey towers being imposed on the residents of Sliema, St Julian’s, Swieqi, Pembroke, Paceville, Gżira, Msida, Qawra, Marsa and Mrieħel.

Then we have the dismembering of the village cores, with the traditional two-storey house being turned into the five- or six-storey garages/maisonettes/apartments and recessed penthouses in Attard, Balzan, Mosta… you name it.

The arrogance of some of these developers and contractors simply knows no bounds: the developer who recently allegedly tried to run over the Gżira local councillor is connected to a public company with bonds held by the public.

And then his brother is the secretary general of the Make Hay while the Sun Shines Developers Association. 

A meal organised at Verdala Palace and a donation of €60,000 to the President for the Community Chest Fund gives you the licence to be arrogant and do whatever you want. As Finance Minister Edward Scicluna would exclaim, “U ejja, come on.”

Residents are having enough of all this and are taking to the streets.

The latest examples of Pembroke and Gżira were significant. I salute the mayors there, since they are level-headed and sensible enough to realise that the welfare of the residents comes first.

Hats off to them.

The government has now come up with its knee-jerk reaction. Parliamentary Secretary for Planning Chris Agius has announced that all construction sites around Malta are to be inspected over a period of six weeks to clamp down on developers behaving illegally.

Agius is a good man. However, I believe he is being unrealistic: with the myriad building sites, I cannot imagine thorough inspections being held in such a short period. And then with a Planning Authority CEO who has been caught travelling on pleasure trips abroad with applying deve-lopers, my faith is even less.

Real drastic action is needed to stamp out the arrogance of the “make hay while the sun shines” brigade.

Arnold Cassola is former Alternattiva Demokratika chairman and former secretary general of the European Green Party. 

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

Support Us