18 January 2006

The Web
Business Today

Parking problems return to haunt Gonzi at GRTU meeting

James Debono

Exotique owner and former Maltasong chairperson Grace Borg stole the scene during last Sunday’s meeting organised by the GRTU when she asked the Prime Minister whether the new Sliema parking plans were aimed at satisfying the business interests of a renowned businessman.
Concern among Sliema residents has been growing ever since sister publication MaltaToday revealed that the new Sliema traffic plans aimed for a reduced car park at the Sliema ferries, down to some 40 spaces from the present 300.
GRTU’s representative Paul Abela told Business Today that a meeting will be held shortly with Minister Jesmond Mugliet in which shop owners will be shown the holistic plan for the Sliema area.
Shop owners are concerned that business will be diverted from the current commercial hub in Bisazza Street, Tower Road and the Ferries towards Albert Mizzi’s MIDI project in Tigne. A retail and leisure centre, disguised as a car park is also being proposed in Qui-Si-Sana.
Qui-Si-Sana residents who met Minister Mugliet in November were told that the car park was necessary to ensure the MIDI project has sufficient parking spaces.
Speaking to Business Today Grace Borg objected to any changes which would divert shoppers from the present commercial hub to Tigne and Qui-Si-Sana.
Being a Sliema resident herself, Grace Borg welcomed more parking spaces for residents as well as the pedestrianisation of Bisazza Street, but only if the Ferries car park is retained and extended over the space presently occupied by a public garden. To mitigate the impact on the environment, Borg suggested surrounding the car park with palm trees.
Borg also favours better management of the Ferries car park.
“Shoppers who park their cars in the Ferries should pay according to the time they spend in the car park. It would be ideal if the Ferries car park is managed by the Sliema Local Council,” Borg told Business Today.
The Sliema Local Council has repeatedly asked the Lands Department for the devolution of the Qui-Si-Sana and Ferries carparks but its request has not been granted.
Grace Borg’s proposal for the management of the Ferries car park is in line with new plans announced on MaltaToday by Transport Authority CEO Gianfranco Selvaggi.
Following last Sunday’s revelation that car park attendants have had their licence renewed for only three months and that tenders will be issued for the management of a number of car parks, there was a mixed reaction among businessmen.
A Sliema shop-owner, who wanted to remain anonymous, welcomed the fact that the licences for the Ferries car park attendants have not been renewed.
“Clients constantly lament being hassled and even threatened by these self-appointed car park attendants. It is about time that the licences of certain car park attendants are not renewed.”
Yet the same shop owner insisted that the Ferries car park should be retained.
He also expressed his concern that if a tender is issued for the management of the car park, parking fees for shop owners, employees and clients should not be prohibitive.
“A fixed daily 50 cents parking charge will be more than reasonable for the employees and shop owners who park their cars at the Ferries on a daily basis,” the anonymous shop owner told Business Today.


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