F’dibattitu publiku dwar Għawdex li ħadt sehem fih, qamu s-suġġetti li ilhom jitilgħu f’laqgħat simili. Kollha marbuta mal-problemi tal-konnettività. Dawn għadhom jikkawżaw it-tluq ta’ bosta Għawdxin li jmorru jgħixu Malta, inkonvenjenzi kbar għal Għawdxin oħra li jaħdmu Malta u nuqqas ta’ investiment f’oqsma ta’ fejda.
Ċerti aspetti tan-nuqqas ta’ konnettività li jeżisti madankollu jħalluni perpless. Kollox sew, se tinbena mina bejn iż-żewġ gżejjer. Taqbel magħha jew le, bilfors taqbel li baqagħlha ftit tas-snin qabel tkun operattiva.
Sadattant trid issir ħidma biex il-problemi tal-konnettività ma jitħallewx jirrankaw. Pereżempju, il-volum ta’ traffiku tal-passiġġieri bejn il-gżejjer jiġġustifika li jidħol vapur ġdid fil-flotta tal-Gożo Channel. Jiġġustifika li t-taħwida legali dwar il-ħolqien tas-servizz fast ferry tiġi maħlula bla dewmien. Kif ukoll li tingħata priorità totali lill-cable li kellu jidħol bejn Malta u Għawdex ħalli s-servizzi tal-internet hemm ikunu fl-aktar verżjoni moderna possibli.
Għaliex dawn l-inizjattivi baqgħu donnhom iġġammjati?
Kont naf li l-marda ta’ Ronnie kienet serja imma l-aħħar li rajtu, xi ġimagħtejn qabel, kien għadu mimli rieda. Sal-bidu ta’ dil-ġimgħa rebħitlu.
Sirt nafu tajjeb ilu ħafna, meta hu kien shop steward għall-ħaddiema tal-kumpanija Bortex u jien kont chairman tal-bord. Iż-żminijiet kienu diffiċli għax l-industrija tal-ħwejjeġ kienet qed titlef mill-kompetittività. Mhux darba jew tnejn kellna konfronti iebsa.
Wara, kellna battibekki ta’ natura differenti meta jien kont President tal-Partit Laburista u hu mexxej ewlieni taż-żgħażagħ Laburisti, tat-tendenza “Lorry Sant”, kif kienet magħrufa. Matul is-snin, apprezzajt dejjem aktar in-natural tiegħu: lest għall-konfront imma ġenwin u leali fuq kollox lejn il-Partit Laburista u l-GWU. Drajt nafdah mija fil-mija u qatt ma ddispjaċieni. Sirna u bqajna ħbieb.
Iffaċċja l-marda li ħakmitu b’kuraġġ sod, li ammirajt. Se nimmissja l-pariri, l-appoġġ u l-enerġija tiegħu. Kondoljanzi profondi lil martu u l-familja kollha tiegħu.
Il-pjazza ta’ Raħal il-Ġdid f’temp li jqarreb għal wieħed tar-rebbiegħa saret post mill-isbaħ… jew issir meta s-siġar ġodda mħawla fiha jieħdu sura sħiħa. Kont hemm filgħodu għal tmiem il-ġimgħa u l-atmosfera kienet waħda ferreħija.
Ma’ kull min tkellimt, sibt qbil li l-post għamel qabża ’l quddiem fil-kwalità. B’ilment wieħed: dwar kif it-traffiku ġie sistematiżżat għax b’mod differenti minn qabel. Naħseb li dan eventwalment jindara. Anke jien ħadt falza stikka meta ġejt biex indur bil-karozza lejn il-pjazza…
Wara kollox, nisimgħu ħafna tgergir dwar xinhu għaddej fit-toroq u fil-pjazez tagħna. Hu bix-xieraq li meta xi bidla f’dal-qasam tkun qed tirnexxi, tingħata wkoll rikonoxximent.
English Version – Gozo debate
During a public debate held recently in Gozo at which I participated, topics that have featured for a long while in such meetings were raised again. All were related to connectivity problems. These are still causing the departure of many Gozitans who go to live in Malta, huge inconveniences to Gozitans who work in Malta and underinvestment in promising sectors.
However some aspects of the existing shortfalls in connectivity leave me nonplussed. All right, a tunnel is to be built between the two islands. Whether one agees with it or not, one must still agree that some years need to elapse before it becomes operational.
Meanwhile, efforts should be made to not allow connectivity problems from escalating. For instance, the prevailing volumes of passenger traffic between the islands surely justify the commissioning of a new ship in the Gozo Channel fleet. It also makes necessary the quick resolution of the legal tangle that has stymied the establishment of a fast ferry service. As well, total priority should be given to the cable that was about to be set up between Malta and Gozo to ensure that internet provision is technologically cutting edge.
Why is it that these initiatives seem to have jammed?
I knew that Ronnie was seriously ill but the last time I had seen him, some two weeks earlier, he was still fighting back. By the beginning of this week, he had lost his fight.
I got to know him well a long time ago, when he served as shop steward for workers at Bortex and I was chairman of the company’s board. Times were tough as the clothing industry was losing competitiveness. More than once or twice we clashed in a big way.
Later, we had disagreements of a different sort when I served as President of the Labour Party and he was a leading figure in Labour’s youth section, within the “Lorry Sant” faction, as it used to be known. As the years went by, I came to appreciate increasingly his way of doing things: he would be ready to go for confrontation but this would always be in genuine mode, above all in a spirit of loyalty to the Labour Party and the GWU. I got used to having full trust in him and have never had to regret this. We became friends and remained like so.
There was a huge courage in how he endured his illness, and I could only admire it. I will miss his advice, his support and his energy. My deep condolences go to his wife and all his family.
With the weather converging towards spring, the main square at Paola has become a very pretty site… or it will be when the newly planted trees come to full maturity. I was there over the weekend in the morning and it was quite a happy scene.
All those I spoke to agreed that there has been a quality leap in how the place is run. There was just one complaint: traffic flows have been organized differently to how they were in the past. I believe that people will eventually become accustomed to the change. I too lost my bearings when driving over into the square…
After all, we hear so many complaints about what goes on in our streets and squares. It is only fair that when a change in this area has been successful, it is at least given some acknowledgement.