If you don’t want to have your car towed while away on holiday, out sailing or sick in hospital, then the authorities would urge you to read the Government Gazette before lifting up that hand brake.
Readers have contacted Times of Malta in recent weeks to complain about the curt response received from the police when they protest against their car being towed while away.
“We were told we should have known that we couldn’t leave our car in our road while abroad on holiday because the road closure was announced in the Government Gazette, said one reader.
"Who the hell reads the Government Gazette before parking their car?” said another, who had their car towed while they were sick in hospital.
The Government Gazette is a list of government, police and court notices. It is published online during week days but not every day.
The issue was flagged by Times of Malta over the weekend in a report about David Saliba, whose car was towed to make way for a Holy Week procession while he was on holiday.
He was charged a whopping €200, a fee he was keen to contest with the authorities.
That no-parking sign had most certainly not been there in the morning
Following 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.
More than three months after paying the €200 to get his car back, Mr Saliba received a short 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 in the Government Gazette that streets were to be cleared.
Since that report, others have come forward to complain about the practice, saying their car had been towed when there were no signs warning motorists that the road would be cleared.
“Our appeal with the police was futile. So, we had to see where we were going to get €200 from, as normal people don’t carry around that sort of money when going out boating,” another reader said.
“The end result was that we had to pay and were instructed to read the Government Gazette!”
Another motorist recounted a recent close shave after parking her car in Msida, close to the Junior College bus stop at around 9am, before leaving on a day trip on a friend’s boat.
On their way back to dry land, she received a phone call from the police asking her to remove her car “immediately” or it would be towed.
“I was told that the zone was marked ‘no parking’ due to the Msida feast. I pointed out that there had been no ‘no parking’ signs at 9am when I parked my car, but the reply was: ‘I don’t know about that, I’m only giving you the message that I received from the station there’.”
When she got to her car, most of the other cars had already been removed.
The motorist recalled how a policeman stood near her car making phone calls to arrange for it to be towed.
“My car had a ‘no parking’ sign plonked right near the front bonnet. That parking sign had most certainly not been there in the morning,” she said.
“I pointed this out to the policeman on duty who was running around the area, telling him that this was unfair and that the sign had very obviously only just been placed there.
“The policeman shrugged and said he’d only just arrived and had no idea when the signs had been placed.
“I asked what could be done about it as it would have been unfair to tow my car had I not made it in time, but he just shrugged again and said that it was not his problem,” she concluded.