The narrow road just off the Mġarr bypass leading to the two independent schools situated there could soon be widened as the transport watchdog steps up efforts to solve the traffic problem there, this newspaper has learnt.
Traffic jams at the area – which has for years been known for being clogged early in the morning and in the afternoon – are expected to resume on Monday, as some 2,000 students return to school after the Easter holidays.
A Transport Malta spokesman told this newspaper that the watchdog was looking into widening Imselliet Street, the road leading to the schools, after carrying out a traffic impact statement to identify what had been causing the problem.
“Transport Malta submitted plans to Mepa to address the situation and the plans are currently at screening stage. However, there might be issues because of archaeological remains and expropriation.”
These include the cart ruts in the area and the fact that not all land is owned by the State, he said, adding the size of the area needed for such a process was still being estimated.
While both schools were continuously trying to step up efforts to tackle the issue, parents believe the only solution to the problem would be widening the road.
More recently, those picking up their children from the schools in the afternoon have taken to parking their car on the main road, as they are no longer allowed inside school premises before 2.45pm.
Since we are no longer allowed in before the mini-vans leave, many have started parking their cars on the main road
“The road leading to the schools is very narrow and since we are no longer allowed in before the mini-vans leave, many have started parking their cars on the main road, which is extremely dangerous and is causing even more chaos,” one parent told this newspaper last week.
Another mother said she had no option but to wait outside the school gate for an hour or risk being stuck in traffic and not picking her two-year-old son on time.
“The situation has got out of hand. In the morning, if we leave home a few minutes late, we don’t make it on time. The school is aware of the situation and does not punish those students that are late, but having children walking in half-way through lessons is not ideal,” the mother said.
The parents who spoke to this newspaper said they were worried an ambulance or police would not be able to make it through to the schools in an emergency.
In February, the wall of a hall still under construction at San Anton collapsed on to an access road, flattening four cars and damaging others. While nobody was injured, the incident fuelled the parents’ concerns.
“I can’t begin to imagine what would have happened had an ambulance needed to come through that day. It would have been a mess,” a mother whose children attend San Anton school said.
While both schools try to encourage parents to make use of the mini-van service or take up carpooling, when asked about this, the majority of the parents said they would rather go through the hassle of picking up their children themselves than making use of the services. On the mini-vans, the parents said they did not trust that the drivers adhered to all the safety regulations.
“Accidents could happen to anyone but at least if I’m driving, the kids would be with me or with their parents, not with a stranger,” a grandfather, who regularly picks up his grandchildren, said.
Similarly, many said they were reluctant to carpool, as they did not want to assume responsibility for other people’s children. Both schools joined forces with carpooling service Bum a Lift earlier this year, and while initial response was positive, it did not do much to alleviate the traffic problem.