Updated 12.50pm, adds PN statement

There is nothing in the Mrieħel flyover project that justifies more destruction of agricultural land in one of the most fertile zones of the country, former Prime Minister Alfred Sant insisted on Tuesday.

In a post on Facebook, the Labour MEP said that after his criticism a month ago, he had taken minister Ian Borg's advice and had a closer look at plans to build a flyover at the Mrieħel bypass. Sant said that after doing so, he stood by his original position.

One month ago, Sant had said Infrastructure Malta had to become far more transparent and accountable for its projects as he expressed sympathy for farmers and residents who were protesting against the Mrieħel plans.  

The plans for the busy road had been revealed by Moviment Graffitti, which said that the flyover will replace the current pedestrian bridge and take up agricultural land equivalent to the size of three football pitches.

Farmers and locals have said they are dead-set against the plans. The Qormi Local Council has also said it is not in favour and urged the Infrastructure Malta to just close the dangerous junction across the Mrieħel bypass and re-route traffic to other roads.

The protest had elicited sympathy from Sant as well as former president Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, who hails from nearby Qormi and who said that authorities were choking her hometown of whatever green areas were left around it. 

Minister Ian Borg had responded to criticism by saying sceptics should take a look at the project plans before criticising. 

Sant stands by criticism

In his Facebook post on Wednesday, Sant said that after taking a new look at the plans, his conclusion remained that the protests were “greatly justified”.

“I see no serious added value in the flyover proposal, except maybe for the promoters of Mrieħel towers.

“I do not want to believe this is the main reason behind the proposal.

“On the other hand, I am also doubtful about how much a flyover can help them.”

The best help they (the tower promoters) can be given is to entangle the mess in the organisation and management of the Mrieħel industrial zone, Sant said.

A few days ago, Infrastructure Malta defended the project saying the flyover was intended to eliminate a black spot and introduce new facilities for alternative modes of travel. 

PN statement

In a statement later, the Nationalist Party said the government had failed to present any studies on the environmental impact of the Mrieħel flyover proposal.

The party also said that although its members in the House planning committee voted against the government’s proposal to remove height limitations at Marsa and Mrieħel, the government’s proposal was approved.

Its excuse to repeatedly ignore the people’s concerns when it came to planning, the PN said, was that there was a lack of space for industry but it failed to carry out any studies to show this. 

The PN said the government was not taking into consideration the fact that less physical space would be needed by industry since the country was moving to a work from home system and it was obvious that the government had ulterior motives.

This was in spite of the public’s objections, the party said.

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