The Paola square regeneration project is far from complete, to the chagrin of the residents who will celebrate the feast of Christ the King this weekend, this newspaper has learnt.

Works on Antoine de Paule Square have been in progress for the past two years, with no end yet in sight, according to some.

The residents said the work rhythm was not constant, though lately there had appeared to be a push with the laying of porfido stone. Still, they described the situation as “worrying”, saying only a few men were seen on site in the early hours of the day and the pace was “very slow”.

“Thank God this is not as big as the square outside St Peter’s in Rome, because we would never see the end of it in our lifetime,” a resident remarked sarcastically.

Now that the feast is here, they should at least try to cordon off the area

“We have been complaining about the state of affairs and, now that the feast is here, they should at least try to cordon off the area, because people can get hurt,” one woman advised. “They told us it would be ready by the election. However, our piazza remained in a shambles,” she said.

Announced in 2015 by Local Government Parliamentary Secretary Silvio Parnis, who at the time was chairman of the Consultative Council for the South, the square was meant to be turned into a state-of-the art, open, pedestrian-only zone.

The trees in the square were relocated and work started, but the area remained in disarray until a few weeks ago, when Equality Minister Helena Dalli, accompanied by Mr Parnis, visited and said the works would resume. She said they had never stopped and the necessary preparations had to be made for the €3 million project, which, Dr Dalli added, would be completed within 15 months.

Local council sources said yesterday that works continued daily but they were still in their initial stages because the project would take another year to complete.

Designed by architect Chris Mintoff, the area will eventually have an urban garden, with a substantial number of trees being planted all around the square.

The large area of the regeneration in question covers the stretch from in front the Paola police station all the way to the health centre and then past the Paola parish church.

ivan.camilleri@timesofmalta.com

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