The government is planning to take responsibility for road maintenance away from local councils through the setting up of a new Roads Authority, the Times of Malta has learnt.

Fredrick Azzopardi, Enemalta’s executive chairman, is calling the shots at the Roads Directorate within Transport Malta in preparation for the launch of the new authority.

He was roped in by the government as an adviser and is not receiving any remuneration.

In his budget speech last Monday, Finance Minister Edward Scicluna said the government will be setting up a new Roads Authority, which will be completely focused on the building and maintenance of the road network.

Asked about the role of the new authority and how it would be different from Transport Malta, a spokeswoman for Transport Minister Ian Borg said the new authority would be taking responsibility back from local councils for the whole road network.

“The agency will be responsible for the building and maintenance of all Maltese roads, a six-fold increase, in terms of kilometres, to its prior responsibilities,” the spokeswoman said.

Since the introduction of local councils in Malta, the maintenance of urban roads has been entirely their responsibility, while Transport Malta remained res-ponsible for some 400 kilometres of arterial roads.

Many local councils used to complain over a lack of funds to maintain their roads properly and often had to rely on extra government funding.

The ministry said this responsibility will return to the central government.

Maintenance of urban roads used to be the responsibility of local councils.Maintenance of urban roads used to be the responsibility of local councils.

On what will happen to the Roads and Infrastructure Directorate at Transport Malta, which currently has some 70 employees, including specialised road engineers and architects, the ministry said it would be integrated in the new agency, with more resources and better performance-related work conditions.

According to the Transport Ministry, the private sector will be involved to support the authority’s endeavours.

Despite the announcement of the authority, the budget did not allocate any funds to it. However, €13 million is dedicated to administrating Transport Malta.

The government has pledged to upgrade the entire road network by investing €700 million over seven years.

A total of €40 million for road construction and maintenance is being set aside for 2018 – more than twice the amount for this current year.

ivan.camilleri@timesofmalta.com

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