People are slipping on Valletta’s hardstone streets, with the government’s cleansing department receiving multiple complaints about the pedestrian danger.

Many of Valletta’s main streets, including Triton Square, Jean de Valette Square, parts of Republic Street, and the streets behind the law courts, are paved with tile-like hardstone paving that becomes slippery during or after rainfall.  

The cleansing department has acknowledged the issue and said it is contemplating investing in a floor sanding machine that would make the capital city’s main streets safer to walk on.

“CMD (Cleansing and Maintenance Department) received a number of complaints regarding these slippery surfaces, and the department is currently looking into the matter,” a spokesperson for the department told Times of Malta.  

“CMD is looking at investing in a multi-purpose machine, such as floor sander or other similar machinery to sand/scrub, clean and polish the slippery tiles, whilst also applying necessary chemicals to hard-rock surfaces by means of this machinery,” the spokesperson said.

 The spokesperson said it was responsible for cleaning those areas but added that it had no say in deciding which tiles to install.  

Andre Pizzuto, who heads the Chamber of Architects and Civil Engineers, said CMD should consult the architects responsible for the project before undertaking any work.

He said floor paving materials should comply with European standards which cover various material properties including strength, durability, discolouration, and slip resistance, among others.

Suppliers need to provide certification to confirm that the materials supplied to the project are adequate for their intended use and have a CE mark, Pizzuto said.

Valletta mayor Alfred Zammit said he has discussed the slippery floor issue with CMD several times. 

“Something must be done because people have already been hurt,” he said.

“This project cost millions, but slip resistance seems to not have been considered,” the mayor added.

The issue is especially important given that the slippery surface covers much of the centre of Valletta, he noted.

“Everyone walks through there, including ministers and MPs on their way to parliament,” Zammit said. 

One of those MPs, PN representative Darren Carabott, told Times of Malta that he had some close calls when walking to parliament.

“It can be dangerous, especially when the floor is slanted, like the area in La Vallette square,” said Carabott, whose constituency includes Valletta. 

He said several people have raised the issue with him.

The paved areas in front of parliament and behind the old theatre were part of the parliament and City Gate project, which was designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano.

According to the Grand Harbour Regeneration Corporation, which supervised the project on behalf of the Maltese government, one of the conditions was that the flooring had to be in local hardstone.

“The hardstone was manufactured from hardstone cut from a specific quarry in Gozo that met all the technical specifications imposed by Piano’s team,” a spokesperson for GHRC said.

“Obviously this is something natural and that has to do with the local hardstone, which is different from that in other countries but still it was up to international standard.”

The stones were inspected and approved by experts from the Renzo Piano Building Workshop, the GHRC said.

“As with other hard stone surfaces, this material tends to polish itself with use, and the areas in question are no exception.”

The spokesperson said there were methods to address the situation but “this is up to the entity responsible for the upkeep and maintenance in Valletta”.

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