Valletta’s infrastructure and its overall shabby appearance has given rise to doubts about whether the city will meet the high standards expected by 2018, when it will become the European Capital of Culture.
While millions of euros have been spent to restore bastions, fortifications and auberges, piles of uncollected rubbish bags and other scruffy sights continue to irritate Valletta’s residents and visitors alike.
The recent relocation of the Valletta monti from Merchants’ Street to right in front of the new Renzo Piano Parliament building earlier this month raised many an eyebrow.
Meanwhile, the unfinished Valletta ditch, originally meant to become a garden, is littered with building material – hardly the ideal aesthetic for the entrance to the capital city.
The nearby bus terminal is peppered with kiosks whose haphazard refrigerators, freezers and heated food display units stick out like sore thumbs next to the newly restored St James Ditch.
Unless the way the council is funded changes, the situation will remain very difficult to improve
Not to mention anything of the noise pollution, including the cacophony that usually accompanies refuse collection rounds.
Earlier this month, Valletta mayor Alexiei Dingli said that the irregular waste collection times, which fall between 6 and 8pm, were the result of inadequate State funding.
The Valletta 2018 Foundation chairman, Jason Micallef, is on record saying that the capital’s cleaning services, road management and general infrastructure are not up to scratch.
Prof. Dingli feels the same. “I agree. The reality is that unless the way the council is funded changes, the situation will remain very difficult to improve,” he said.
The V18 Foundation provided its own photos of the city during a recent press conference to drive the point home about inadequate standards in some services. V18’s images showed mounds of rubbish awaiting collection, shabby street signs, unfinished roadworks and rubbish collectors working as tourists dined along Republic Street.
Asked why this was happening, Prof. Dingli said it was a “chain reaction”. The council, he said, was spending about €480,000 on refuse collection and other cleaning services.
This sum exceeded the amount that was allocated to the council to finance these services by around €200,000, he pointed out.
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