A group of activists staged a lie-in protest in front of parliament on Saturday morning in an effort to showcase that inefficient transport policies are leading to preventable road deaths. 

'Dead' activists could be seen laying on the ground in Freedom Square, Valletta, among toppled over bicycles and strewn placards that read "people not petrol", "fix our streets" and "safer roads now". 

In a statement, NGOs Moviment Graffitti, Rota and Friends of the Earth Malta demanded a "safe and efficient transport system" and called on Transport Minister Aaron Farrugia to nationalise all public transport services in Malta. 

"The transport model being pushed by past and current authorities prioritises private cars at the expense of guaranteeing safe and reliable access to mobility for everyone, at its worst resulting in an unacceptably high number of road incidents and deaths," they said.

"It has also resulted in constant traffic and congestion problems, severely impairing people’s ability to move from one place to another."

A vision for transport that relies primarily on public cars widens inequality and fails to provide equitable mobility, they said, however, all things indicate that authorities will continue to prioritise infrastructure for cars. 

"This infrastructure perpetuates the lack of safety and efficiency felt by many who would like to move to other forms of transport," they said. 

Public transport services, they continued, are essential and should not be run by for-profit companies "that run the risk of compromising on quality to make profits on taxpayer money". 

"This model has led to the great disappointment of the Gozo Fast Ferry over the past months, with the government aiming to pledge millions more in public funds to satiate private businesses," they said.

"The failure of the authorities to acknowledge that a large proportion of the public is dependent on buses and ferries for daily commutes - due to age, ability, finance, or choice - is a gross disservice."

Photo: Chris Sant FournierPhoto: Chris Sant Fournier

Politicians must take bold steps to replace car dependency with more sustainable and inclusive methods of travel and stop using roadworks as a vehicle to "dish out favours and huge amounts of public money to private contractors".

"We insist that our safety and quality of life are worth far more than politicians’ perceived obligation to those who financed their campaigns, and remind them that their true constituents are the people," they said.

"If Transport Minister Hon. Aaron Farrugia wants to avoid further deaths on our roads and be remembered as the transport minister that solved our road congestion issues, the way forward is clear. The public has waited long enough, and it is well past the time to walk the talk."

The groups are calling on the minister to nationalise public transport and increase investment, publish standards for pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, publish a legally binding national cycling policy, update the Highway Code to include a hierarchy of road users and give vehicle drivers the greatest responsibility to reduce danger on the roads, introduce presumed liability laws and prioritise active mobility in village cores. 

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