Moviment Graffitti activists have remained in place on the site of a controversial road proposed in Dingli following a meeting with Ian Borg on Thursday evening.
For the past 18 days, Graffitti has been preventing Infrastructure Malta workers from beginning the construction of a hotly contested road that would connect id-Daħla tas-Sienja to Triq San Ġwann Bosco, partially passing through ODZ land, some of which is in use by farmers for agricultural purposes.
Activists have been camped out at the site since March 23, saying that the roads agency did not have adequate planning permission to construct the road, as the schemed road IM is pointing to falls short of passing through ODZ land.
On Wednesday evening, two Graffitti members and two Dingli residents met with Infrastructure Minister Ian Borg, Infrastructure Malta CEO Frederick Azzopardi and Planning Authority head Martin Saliba at the parliament building to discuss the Dingli issue.
Graffitti has been calling on authorities to meet since week one, making a set of “reasonable demands” as a point of discussion. The NGO is demanding that accurate plans for the road are made public and that the agency make clearer the justification for the building of the road.
NGO demanding that accurate plans for the road are made public
On more than one occasion, Dingli residents present at the site during Graffitti’s actions have expressed concerns that the road could be a smokescreen to allow the development of new buildings in the rural ODZ area.
There have also been concerns about the uprooting of centuries-old carob trees and compensation issues related to land expropriation. The group maintains that no works should be carried out until all these issues are resolved.
Following the meeting, Infrastructure Malta said that it had recommitted to seven promises made to Dingli families last month. These include a reduction in the width of the road from 10 to eight metres and the omission of a splay in the road to save a nearby tree, as well as the promise that no more carob trees would be uprooted during the construction of the road.
IM also said that the Lands Authority has approved the land acquisition for the formation of the road and that the requested compensation had already been paid by the roads agency, with Lands due to publish the pertaining notices of acquisition shortly.
“Infrastructure Malta reaffirms that pending completion of land acquisition publishing process, it shall only carry out works on lands for which it has an agreement to do so with the pertaining landowners,” it said.
Movement Graffiti said it was considering its next steps but in the meantime confirmed that activists would not be leaving the Dingli site for the time being.
Activists halted the start of works on the “road to nowhere” earlier in March, which had attracted similar environmental protests in October of last year.
On Saturday, a rubble wall close to a medieval chapel in the vicinity, which conservationists have also expressed concern might be threatened by the works, collapsed after the vibrations from machinery being used on the part of the road being built caused it to give way.
The wall was later repaired by IM workers.
Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.Support Us