Motorists can put their road rage on hold because the busy Msida junction will not be undergoing major infrastructural works in the coming months, as the Times of Malta April Fools' joke claimed this morning.
The claim created jitters among thousands who could not believe that the authorities would give the go-ahead to a project at such a strategic junction when works on the nearby Kappara roundabout start on April 11.
“A bunch of kindergarten kids would surely do a better job,” wrote one reader, while another sought divine inspiration: “Alla maghna, isma t-talb taghna. Amen!” (Lord help us, pray for us).
But others realised it was a prank story especially when they read the name of the Azeri consultancy firm - Donbilevas (Don’t believe us).
The fictitious Msida project
The €25 million project will see a new flyover built connecting Triq Marina to the bottom of Triq Mikiel Anton Vassalli, close to the Labour Party club, to alleviate the traffic problem around Msida. It is also intended to resolve the well-known storm water problems “once and for all”, documents show.
The government is well aware that two major projects could bring traffic chaos but a source close to the Transport Ministry said the Msida plan was bound by tight EU deadlines. To qualify for 85 per cent of EU funding, the project would need to be completed by the end of December 2017.
Works are expected to start just after the Msida feast in July. The junction will be closed to traffic for three months in the initial stage of the project, with further closures scheduled to follow.
Sources said the ministry hoped to mitigate congestion by carrying out works on alternate days, allowing traffic to flow through the area the rest of the time.
Works on the Kappara junction project are set to start on April 11 and should last at least a year and a half. This means that the two projects will coincide, bringing a veritable logistical nightmare to an island choked with traffic even when no projects are going on.
The ministry is expected to unveil details about the project on Monday. Transport Minister Joe Mizzi could not be contacted for comment.
But documents seen by Times of Malta show that the government has engaged Azeri consultancy firm Donbilevas to draw up detailed plans.
The project would also mean that the Workers’ Monument in Msida would have to be shifted elsewhere because of its sheer size, but the government is considering erecting a smaller monument to honour the late Prime Minister Dom Mintoff in its place.
Transport Malta is set to meet with stakeholders in the coming days for an information meeting and will later be drawing up alternative traffic routes.