NGOs call for review of Msida Creek project

A 3D artist’s impression of the new Msida Creek project. Photo: Infrastructure Malta

Activists from 11 NGOs are calling on the government to return to the drawing board and review its Msida Creek Project plans. 

In a statement on Tuesday, the NGOs said that Infrastructure Malta presented the revamped plans for the Msida Creek Flyovers last week and while these were “illustrated with mature trees”, there were “gaping deficiencies when it comes to the prioritisation of public and active (e.g. walking, cycling) modes of transport.

“While the new plans present an aesthetic improvement, organisations and experts in the field are frustrated to note how this multi-million major infrastructural project is yet again failing to cater to the social and functional character of Msida, beyond being a junction for car traffic.

“Msida Creek is first and foremost the social and cultural centre of the town of Msida, but also an important pedestrian intersection for the local community, members of the educational institutions in the vicinity, and users of the public transport network,” the NGOs said. 

The project received a major makeover by the roads agency after initial plans for the area stoked controversy. The redesign of the Msida Creek project has seen the number of flyovers reduced from the original two to one.

However, the current proposal, the activists said, still lacks “safe and efficient connections” for anyone not inside a car between Msida and the University and the skate park.

“The trip between Msida and Birkirkara – a densely populated locality and the most popular commute destination – lacks dedicated bus lanes, lumps pedestrians and cyclists together in what will undoubtedly be congested paths, and has a complete absence of specially designated bike lanes,” the NGOs said. 

On the fishing community of Msida being relocated into the narrow canals, the NGOs said that apart from “general scepticism towards the upkeep of these canals”, the move seemingly gives way to an extension of the yacht marina into the heart of Msida.

“This yet again sends the message that big business is given priority over community texture. The same can be said about the nature of infrastructural project planning, where public consultation often takes the form of a box-ticking exercise, rather than an attempt to create a space that caters to community needs.”

Pointing to the Marsa and Central Link projects as examples, the NGOs said that the model Infrastructure Malta is pushing has been shown to “fail very quickly” as both areas remain congested areas of heavy traffic and road fatalities.

Projects such as these continue to undermine [people’s] physical and environmental health, and should not be the sink of national spending, unmatched by the poor political will and financial investment towards promoting public and active commuting, the NGOs said. 

“We welcome the fact that Infrastructure Malta had been willing to revise the original plans to incorporate some of the public’s concerns, such as an aesthetic improvement over the first plans and the relocation of a pedestrian area in front of the church, and therefore expect that they will again consider further improvements to give the area the long-term vision it deserves.”

The statement was endorsed by Moviment Graffitti, Friends of the Earth Malta, Din l-Art Ħelwa, The Archaeological Society Malta, Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar, Nature Trust – FEE Malta, BirdLife Malta, Rota, Extinction Rebellion Malta, ACT and Ramblers Malta.

As per Times of Malta, 2 November 2022.