I cannot understand how Vincent Magri, CEO of WasteServ Malta (April 15, 18) took it upon himself to reply to MEP Joseph Muscat's comments that the recycling plant should not be allowed to materialise anywhere in Malta and not just in Marsascala. The recycling plant issue has now become a political issue and Mr Magri should steer away from politics.

We, the community of Marsascala, have been taken for a ride by the political forces over the past years. The recycling plant has mutated considerably since it was built. The residents of Marsascala have had to endure great discomfort while the rest of Malta simply sent its refuse to the thresholds of our homes. A once burgeoning tourist village had its entrance adorned by a monstrosity whose stinging odour was enough to make drivers sick on passing by; imagine what travellers on foot must have felt. It is in this context that the anti-government vote in the recent local council elections must be understood.

The Minister for the Environment has time and again stressed that the plant is being upgraded. In reality it is being enlarged.

We are told that initially the plant was designed to treat 200,000 tonnes of waste per annum. Interestingly WasteServ claims that this is only a worse case scenario and that in reality only a maximum input of 71,000 tonnes per annum will be allowed. Mr Magri, writing for the government, expects us to swallow this sour sugar-coated pill. What guarantees do we have that under no circumstances will such a plant ever be forced to reach its worst case limits once the capacity is there?

Marsascala residents have not been given the scientific reasons why this plant should remain in Marsacala and not be built on some other site away from residential zones, especially in view of the stated aims of the government that two other sites to cope with Malta's total waste are needed. Why make it a personal issue, a matter of "honour" to persist with the present plans when it might be more feasible to build just one large plant in some remote part of the island?

On the other hand, the Opposition is promising to study alternative sites when elected, without a clear commitment to pull down the Marsacala plant. Common sense and the way politics is played makes one suspect that a new administration will be only too happy to find it ready built, to plead that it cannot pull it down due to lack of funds, and that anyway it was not involved in the decision to enlarge it in the first place.

The only way we, the residents of Marsacala, can regain our faith in the political process is for the parties to treat the waste problem as one of national interest. If all the stakeholders were to sit round a table and agree to appoint a group of local and, if necessary, foreign experts that enjoy everyone's trust, and provide them with all the data available for them to come up with a scientific report as to how many recycling plants Malta should have and where it's best to site them, the problem would be solved once and for all, since the ultimate decision would be binding on all the stakeholders.

All the silly games that have been played so far, such as using very unscientific and doubtful surveys to claim that the population of Marsascala was no longer against fish farms, or attributing a remark that Rabat was the intended site of a recycling plant to an Opposition spokesman, only to have all sides yell that they will never do anything like that, will come to an end. After all if Rabat does not deserve a recycling plant, what makes Marsascala so different?

We, residents of Marsascala, expect to be treated as mature people not as imbeciles. We expect the political parties to put into practice their expressed belief in democracy, more so now that the local council elections have shown that Marsascala is dead set against the recycling plant being upgraded or enlarged or rebuilt.

Malta is going through a rough period. We need to unite hearts and minds if we are to overcome the great problems the country faces. This small island cannot afford to throw away any form of goodwill that can be brought to bear on the many problems we face. We need to have negotiation not confrontation. The only honour at stake is not that of the minister, or the government, or even WasteServ, but that of our country and its people.

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us