Dangerous scooter rider

I had just come out from a shop. Since there was no traffic, I was just about to start crossing the street when a scooter whizzed by the wrong way, missing me by barely 10  centimetres.

I froze, almost in a state of shock. The rider kept speeding away.

The feeling of helplessness was compounded by the fact that it was impossible to find any means of identifying the scooter and/or the rider.

Joseph Delia – Swieqi

Valletta: a beleaguered capital city

Valletta’s main roads are like an obstacle course, full of tables and chairs. Photo: Matthew MirabelliValletta’s main roads are like an obstacle course, full of tables and chairs. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

As a Valletta resident, something that became painfully noticeable post-lockdown is the increase in chairs and tables, noise and traffic that has once again become part of our daily lives. For years I have asked myself: does it have to be so?

For years now, so many people who call Valletta home because we live here wonder if this intrusion into our lives can get any worse. The answer is self evident. And, yet, one wonders: why can’t there be an overall policy determining the amount of chairs and tables in our piazzas and streets?

Noise pollution coming from bars and restaurants should be controlled, ensuring the well-being of all parties and stakeholders concerned. The basic needs and right to happiness for many Valletta residents have been overlooked far too often. Loud, raucous music has now become the norm, denying many people sleep.

One finds oneself thinking twice about running an errand because the main arteries are more like an obstacle race, avoiding tables and chairs.

Although the problems faced by Valletta’s residents are compelling and deserve consideration, we should all be concerned at the extent of how Valletta’s piazzas and historic streets have been commercialised without a little sensitivity to the surrounding buildings which have again shrunk back into the shadows of oblivion.

After decades of neglect, Valletta’s streets are now engulfed by artifacts and catering paraphernalia that detract from the splendour of Valletta’s historic buildings. Their architecture voice goes unheard, their meaning and socio-political significance is under threat.

Although it may no longer qualify as the ghost town it was, can we imagine The Quirinale,  in Rome, or 10, Downing Street, London being surrounded by chairs and tables with menus propped up against their walls?

Many of Valletta’s historic buildings must stand alone unencumbered. Otherwise, their restoration and reconstruction are pointless academic exercises and their beauty and significance are slowly being drowned in the cacophony of competing voices.

We must ask ourselves how far can commercial interests be allowed to venture when in proximity to a significant building? In other words, if a catering establishment or a hotel is in the proximity of a historic building, which of the two has priority?

Without a shadow of doubt,  the case for Valletta’s historic patrimony and the significance of its buildings is strong. Perhaps a superintendent for Valletta’s historic buildings is in order. Valletta is our capital and houses our parliament, the president’s palace, St John’s Co-Cathedral.

By its very nature it represents each and every one of us. Valletta’s historic buildings and its cultural heritage cannot be allowed to disappear into oblivion under waves of excessive commercial interest.

Collectively, we must valorise our capital. Collectively we must compromise and find a balance because Valletta’s walls and streets are sacred to us all.

Madeleine Gera – Valletta

‘Get stoned’

Our enlightened politicians are now legislating and ‘encouraging’ us to grow our pots of marijuana in our houses.

Instead of aggressively promoting ‘healthy living’, sport and so forth, we are now ‘urged’ to get stoned regularly!

Joe Bharwani – Floriana

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