27 July 2005

The Web

Entering Floriana and Valletta will incur a fee from April

Karl Schembri

Valletta and Floriana are to be armed with cameras in nine months’ time clicking busily at every car entering and coming out of the capital and its suburb, so that every driver circulating for more than 30 minutes receives a bill at home, government announced yesterday.
The plan unveiled yesterday claims to offer solutions to the traffic congestion and parking problems on the peninsula while reducing drastically car pollution by promoting public transport, although ministers will keep entering Valletta with their publicly funded cars as usual.
The plans are so drastic they involve four ministers and one parliamentary secretary forming the so called Cabinet Committee for National Projects, who flanked each other yesterday for the launch of the consultative document presented by Investments Minister Austin Gatt with the disclaimer that “nothing is written in stone” so far.
Government intends to scrap the V licence system, which currently has 33,000 motorists authorised to drive through Valletta for Lm20 a year competing for the 3,000 legal parking spaces in the capital. Instead, drivers entering Valletta will pay an hourly 30c fee capped at Lm2.40, while commuters to Floriana will be charged 20c an hour, capped at Lm1.80.
Drivers will be able to pay through SMS, email and direct credit, the minister said.
Cameras will be installed from near the Customs Office, St Anne Street and Sa Maison hill leading up to the Police Headquarters in Floriana.
“The V licence system has collapsed,” Gatt announced yesterday. “We want to make the capital accessible to everyone while getting people to pay for parking.”
He said 4,986 were registered as Valletta residents, meaning they had a free V licence, but Gatt claimed 3,000 of them were abusive as they did not really live there. The new cameras will make it possible to check whether drivers were really parking in Valletta at night and sleeping there, he said.
The whole project, meant to be completed by April next year, will also involve the first park and ride facility, to be situated in Blata l-Bajda and meant to replace 950 parking spaces in Floriana and Valletta, with the promise that there will be a shuttle service to Valletta every three minutes during peak time.
The park and ride scheme is expected to cost between 60 and 80c flat rate for those who park before 8am, but the fees after 8am still have to be worked out. The Transport Authority will be exclusively responsible for parking and transport fees and pre-paid systems, Transport Minister Jesmond Mugliett said.
“This project in itself should improve public transport,” Mugliett said, promising to introduce electric car transport within the capital and new ferry services to Valletta.
The same authority will be in charge of tenders for the installation, commissioning and management of the system.
“So should we expect workers in Valletta to pay 60c a day, Lm3 a week?” the document presented yesterday asks rhetorically. “The answer is NO because we expect them, like every other employee in Europe working in congested zones like Valletta and Floriana, to go to work using public transport and if they insist on going to work with their car, then it is their choice and they have to pay for it. We also expect them to pick up three other workers on the way if they go to work with their car, and in that way they can share the fare.”
But when asked whether the ministers presenting the document will themselves go to Valletta in their cars, Gatt said: “Yes we’ll go with our cars and pay for the parking” – the payer in their case being the public coffers.
His statement stands in stark contrast with the document, which mocks workers going to work with their private cars: “Here is the irony: 75 per cent of those who work come with their private cars while 70 per cent of visitors come on buses. In which other country do you go for work in the centre of the capital city with your car and park there for eight hours? Only in Malta.”
The document pontificates further: “Valletta and Floriana should not be warehouses for employees’ cars until they leave their offices. Valletta and Floriana should be enjoyed by the residents, their relatives, by those who go to shop or eat or those who need services as well as for historical and touristic value.”
Vehicles that are to be exempted from the scheme include residents’ cars, vehicles serving commercial outlets in specific time slots, construction vehicles, emergency cars, electric cars, taxis, motor bikes and bicycles.
Valletta Mayor Paul Borg Olivier said his council was in favour of even harsher measures to reduce traffic from the capital but this was an acceptable compromise.

The plan on paper:
Install cameras for time parking in Floriana and Valletta
Eliminate V licence
Larger pedestrian zone in Valletta
Relocate il-monti from Merchants’ Street
Operate park and ride scheme from Blata l-Bajda, with 950 parking spaces
Remove parking from St George’s Square, Freedom Square and the Opera House rubble site

Valletta parking fees:
Monday to Friday 8am – 6pm, and Saturday 8am – 1pm:
First 30 minutes – free
Second 30 minutes – 30c
After 1hr – 30c per hour
Maximum: Lm2.40
Other times: Free first 30 minutes
10c one-time charge after 30 minutes

Floriana parking fees:
Monday to Friday 8am – 6pm, and Saturday 8am – 1pm:
First 30 minutes – free
Second 30 minutes – 20c
After 1hr – 20c per hour
Maximum: Lm1.80
Other times: Free first 30 minutes
5c one-time charge after 30 minutes


The Malta Financial & Business Times is published weekly on Wednesdays.
Website is updated weekly on Thursdays at 15.00CET
Copyright © Newsworks Ltd., Malta
Editor: Kurt Sansone
The Malta Financial & Business Times, Newsworks Ltd, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann
Tel: (356) 2138 2741 | Fax: (356) 2138 5075 | E-mail