When David Saliba went on holiday last April, he left his car parked around the corner from his house and didn’t give it another thought – “why would you?”
“I parked next to my house like I normally do. Why would I have thought it was going to be an issue?” he said.
While he was white water rafting with friends in Prague during Holy Week his phone rang six times.
The minute he got back on dry land he returned the call.
“It was the police, they told me there was going to be a procession through my street and I had to clear away my car ‘right away’. I couldn’t and they said it was to be towed,” a frustrated Mr Saliba said.
The tow cost Mr Saliba a whopping €200, a fee he was keen to contest with the authorities.
Following a lengthy correspondence, Mr Saliba’s complaint eventually made its way from his local police station to their headquarters.
Cases such as these are decided by the police, and communicated to the complainants in a letter signed by the police’s traffic branch.
Read the Government Gazette?
More than three months after paying the €200 to get his towed car back, Mr Saliba received a curt reply from the police saying that his request for a refund had been turned down.
In the correspondence, the traffic branch said that “the Commissioner of Police has directed that no refund is to be reimbursed”.
The reason? According to the police, Mr Saliba should have read the notice that streets were to be cleared through the Government Gazette.
Surely we can come up with a better system of notifying residents that their car should not be parked outside their home on a particular date
“So I am expected to read the Government Gazette before going on holiday?” Mr Saliba said.
“It’s not even about the money – it’s about the principle,” he added.
A recurring complaint
Mr Saliba is not the only one to complain about the practice of cars being towed away to make way for village feasts – especially in the summer months.
Another reader told Times of Malta that their car had been towed away to make way for a religious statue to be carried through the streets of her town.
She too had been away from home – in Gozo for the weekend, and unable to move her car when police called.
The reader, who asked not to be named, is still awaiting the outcome of her petition to be reimbursed for the hefty towing fee.
“I have nothing against village feasts – on the contrary, but surely we can come up with a better system of notifying residents that their car should not be parked outside their home on a particular date,” the reader said.