6 NOVEMBER 2002
Speaking at a recent press conference, Transport and Communications Minister Censu Galea and Social Policy and Deputy Prime Minister Dr Lawrence Gonzi shed light on the governments tangible progress in the two areas falling under Mr Galeas jurisdiction.
"As with all other sectors that are of primary importance to the improvement of the quality of life of the Maltese people, Government has addressed the sector of roads and communications, in a serious and far-reaching manner. We are committed to resolve issues once and for all," Gonzi said while reviewing governments performance to date.
As a result of liberalisation in the telecommunications sector, there is now a much greater access to a variety of services. Around 25 per cent of the Maltese population has access to internet and some 250,000 people own a mobile phone.
The Maritime Sector
The total number of vessels registered under the Maltese flag has now reached 3,100 with a gross tonnage of 27.5 million tons.
Maritime traffic to the Maltese Islands continues to grow, both in terms of the number of vessels and tonnage, with the greatest increase coming from cruise liners which are increasingly using Grand Harbour as a port of call. By the end of this year, 300,000 tourists would have come to Malta on 400 cruise liners.
The Gozo-Malta link
Lm33 million was invested to ensure that the Gozo Channel Company has three new purposely-designed ferries. Moreover, the new all-weather berthing facilities at Cirkewwa will result in easier access to Gozo throughout the entire year. Work being undertaken at Mgarr will provide a better service to passengers and their vehicles.
Upgrading the road network
Over the past four years, Government has invested Lm30 million on improving the road network system. Great care has been taken to ensure that works are of a high standard and that the new roads will withstand the test of time. This process entails the complete rebuilding of roads; this takes time, however the tangible results are there for all to see. There has been extensive work carried out on twenty arterial roads, including Mdina Road Qormi, Mdina Road Attard, the Salina Coast Road, Hal Far, Burmarrad, Psaila Street B Kara, and Hompesch Road in Fgura. Work has also been carried out on over 300 residential streets as well as roads in a number of Industrial Estates. Road works involving a further investment of Lm9 million are currently underway on around 30 kilometres of roads.
Culverts for services have also been built to avoid the need to dig up new roads after a short while, whilst road signage has also seen a dramatic improvement. Furthermore a ten-year master-plan has been drawn up to ensure that the pace is maintained in a planned and well co-ordinated manner.
Modernising the public transport system
Improvement in the public transport system will follow the introduction of new buses, that will be safer, more environment - friendly and easier to access for people with mobility problems. Subsidies to bus owners wishing to purchase new buses have also increased substantially and now amount to Lm32,000 per owner.