The lack of enforcement of existing legislation regulating waste disposal and insufficient resources are to blame for the trash problem in touristic areas, according to catering establishment representatives and St Julian’s Mayor Albert Buttigieg.
The persistent problem of filth on the streets of such localities appears to be a combination of litter left behind by people, trash from holiday apartments and some catering establishments not disposing of their waste properly.
But the failure of the relevant authorities to clamp down on polluters and the inadequacy of services is leaving residents frustrated and tourists with a rather unpleasant experience.
The Malta Hotel and Restaurants Association said it is all very well to have rules on paper but that alone is not enough.
“Malta probably tops the EU list for rules, regulations and authorities. We have all the rules and regulations necessary to ensure a smooth and civilised way of life,” it said.
“What we do not have is enforcement. Without enforcement, you can have all the rules and regulations in the world as they will be on paper only.”
The association insisted that enforcement should be embraced by the business community and the public alike.
“Without this we will just carry on muddling our way and pointing fingers at each other,” it warned.
The Chamber of SMEs highlighted the need for a specialised cleansing unit in the more touristic areas.
“Ideally, we would have a dedicated team that would function 24 hours a day, at least, during the peak seasons. It would go round emptying bins, sweeping, ensuring the general upkeep of the area so it always looks good,” Philip Fenech, chamber vice president, said.
“Besides the need for an educational campaign for the public, we must also increase the budget for cleansing,” added the representative of the tourism and hospitality sector within the chamber.
Fenech praised the efforts of the public cleansing department.
“We keep close contact with them and, whenever we need them, they are there to clean up but cannot be there all the time. That is why we need a dedicated team,” he said.
Ramon Deguara, director of public cleansing, said that the unit provides ancillary services to those given by the local councils.
“We give additional services in the busier touristic areas such as St Julian’s and Paceville, Sliema, St Paul’s Bay, Valletta, Birżebbuġa, Marsascala and Marsaxlokk,” he said.
Deguara added that it is the duty of public cleansing unit to assist wherever possible but it is not its remit to enforce regulations.
However, Buttigieg decried the lack of enforcement he insists is exacerbating the problem.
“The Malta Tourism Authority and the Environment and Resources Authority are not clamping down on offenders and public cleansing have to sort it out,” he said.
Buttigieg said that some catering establishments were dodging the regulation binding them to use a private collector and were dropping off their waste out on the street.
“Green wardens have disappeared and the council cannot afford to pay two LESA officials at €27 an hour each to carry out enforcement,” he said.
Alfred Camilleri, who lives on Spinola Road, said the situation in his hometown is becoming frustrating.
“We have people in Airbnbs taking their garbage out at the wrong time or on the wrong collection days and we have restaurants that pile their rubbish on every corner,” he said, adding the trash is also a nuisance for pedestrians.
“The elderly cannot walk on pavements because they are full of bags and it is a big eyesore for tourists. Not to mention the rats and cockroaches we have to deal with,” he said.