Infrastructure Malta chief Fredrick Azzopardi has justified the agency’s decision to carry out roadworks without a development permit at a traffic junction in Ħal Farruġ, Luqa, on the grounds that it was “very urgent”.

Furthermore, he said that the agency was contesting a €20,000 fine imposed by the Planning Authority over such breach, saying it was “excessive”.

Mr Azzopardi was asked on the matter during an on-site visit that Transport Minister Ian Borg made yesterday during the second phase of the €9.5 million project. 

Scheduled for completion at the end of this year, the works will widen the arterial road linking Qormi to Malta International Airport. The first phase, which consisted of the widening of a traffic junction near St Vincent de Paul, was completed in June last year. 

Last February, Times of Malta reported that Infrastructure Malta was slapped with a fine after it transpired that the first phase, which necessitated the take up of adjacent land outside the road’s original footprint, had been carried out without a permit. 

As a matter of fact, the agency applied for sanctioning, which is the term used to regularise illegal developments. 

The application was filed as part of the planning process for the entire project which is spread over 1.7 kilometres.

Asked by the Times of Malta why Infrastructure Malta had flouted planning rules and started the first phase with no permit in hand, Mr Azzopardi pointed out that the fine was being contested. 

“The fine was slapped as if the entire project had been completed without a permit, which is not the case,” he said.

While describing the junction as a very important one, he insisted that works had to start immediately to alleviate traffic caused by the ongoing works on the multi-level intersection in Marsa. 

When it was pointed out to him that the government should lead by example, Mr Azzopardi said that “when possible” the agency was following the proper planning procedure. “In the case of this junction, I felt that in the circumstances, since it was a small parcel of land, though not justified, it was important to forge ahead without a permit as the benefits were big,” he said. 

Apart from this case, Infrastructure Malta was also slapped with a €42,454 fine over the controversial Tal-Balal road-widening project, which started before a permit had been issued.

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