NO TO QALA CREEK & YES TO THE SALVATION OF HONDOQ
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Readers Letter – Over the past weeks in Gozo, and in particular in the village of Qala, the dilemma over “Hondoq ir-Rummien Bay” with regards to the well-known proposed project known as: “Qala Creek Project” sprang forth again. Perhaps everyone has heard of this project and also about the impact it will have, not only on Qala residents and the natural environment that we have in Qala but also on numerous Gozitans, Maltese and Tourists visiting the beach both in winter and particularly in the summer season which is highlighted in the photograph, which shows that the beach is beset by people.
In my opinion and in the opinion of the majority of the people of Qala, Hondoq ir-Rummien Bay will be destroyed forever. This fact emerged on Thursday the 27th of May, 2010 at a Public Consultation meeting with the People of Qala that MEPA organized as part of the permit process. I don’t agree at all with the proposed project for several reasons indicated here. This is NOT what we call sustainable development. Sustainable development when such boat oils will be spread in the sea? Or now are we’re going to invent a filter to purify the sea water from oil? It has absolutely nothing related to the fact that the yacht marina is made outside the swimming area or not. Why? Is there anything that the sea leaves behind? The sea will be contaminated with boat oil because the sea carries everything! Then who will compensate those individuals who fall ill with cancer in such cases?
A clear example is the shore nearby known as “Iz-Zewwieqa”. Is it still good for swimming? Of course not! If we are really proud with the introduction of “ECO Gozo” project that is so reluctantly adopted by MEPA to show it is working in favor of the environment in Gozo, the Authority is certainly not abiding by this in the case of “Hondoq ir-Rummien Bay”! With the proposed project we’re not improving our environmental situation. They are considering their decisions in the SHORT TERM, because we need work and what they should consider LONG TERM is what is the best for the environment . They also need to teach our children to take future decisions based on the LONG TERM, in order to have sustainable development! What inspiration are they currently giving to our children??!!
With regards to the traffic issue, here one can notice again that MEPA is considering decisions on a short term basis because of “the need”!! If one calculates on an average basis of two cars in every residence / villas / apartments and car for each room that the tourists occupy in the five star hotel mentioned, traffic will increase by 731 EXCEPT those individuals Maltese / Gozitans and even tourists eating in the proposed restaurant and swimming there as soon as the project terminates. I took account of two cars per dwelling because if we quote statistics of ‘National Household Travel Survey’, which was held on the 26th of May, 2010, one can notice that the average of cars per household rose to 1.36 from 0.89 over that of year1989, and even if we calculate the NSO statistics SILC received until 2007, we see that there are two cars per household. This is also seen even if quote the 2005 Census.
At the same time one can note that the parking area will not hold that amount of cars. This means that this amount of cars will increase every day or once every two days on the urban roads of the village, so the residents of these roads will also suffer from diseases: such as Cancer and Asthma which may result in a number of deaths. We already have a problem with traffic on the roads of the square and the Mgarr Road every morning and afternoon and with this project, it will turn into a major problem! Has MEPA reflected on this and how many traffic accidents and even deaths can result with this problem? Do they know that on the 1st of January of this year, two incidents on the Mgarr Road happened in the same place? I ask again, by how much is the number of accidents going to increase with this traffic intensification?
We want only sustainable development and not unbridled development!
They also spoke about the creation of hundreds of jobs through this project and once again gave you a clear example. Creating jobs, when we had hotels like the ones of Mgarr, Andar and Atlantis which were transformed into apartments ?! Is this what we call job creation and improvements in the Gozo economy?! I mention also the Kempinski Hotel Project situated in San Lawrenz where half of it was turned into apartments. The Gozitans were promised employment there and then what happened?? Jobs were given to foreigners! Can we call this an improvement to the quality of the economy and the standard of living for Gozitans??
I mention the famous Project of Fort Chambray. Can someone give the number of Gozitans working here?! Of course not because the project FAILED! You would think that we had learnt the lesson that we are just getting rid of our environment! Do we need to pass from another trauma by getting rid of another vast part of our environment? Can MEPA say that it’s working in favor of the environment with regards to this project?
Astrid Vella mentioned several reports about the impact on the environment and none of them mentioned that Hondoq is one of the best places for yacht marinas and that part of Hondoq is an ODZ – meaning that this part of Hondoq cannot be developed. This was done by the MEPA Auditors and commissioned also by MEPA itself. Also MEPA’s Natural Heritage Advisor Committee noticed several points in the “Environment Impact Statement” of Hondoq commissioned by the MEPA itself showing that this report was not justified!! Is this what we call: “The seriousness” embracing MEPA?!
Do you know how many species of insects and nature will reach extinction? And what about life in the sea? How many types of fish and other sea life will be eradicated with boat oils? Do you know that even archaeological objects found in the sea are seriously affected? This was clearly mentioned by the Directors of MEPA during the TV Programme “Ghawdex Illum” on Saturday the 29th of May, 2010. Is this what we call sustainable development?!! Is this what we call “ECO Gozo” introduced by MEPA and then they want to approve project like this? It’s a shame!
Do you want our children and grandchildren to complain about the destruction of Hondoq? Are you the ones who care for the beauty of our environment? Are you the ones being exemplary people for our children who will be making similar decisions in few years’ time?
Of course not! So beware of the PRECIOUS decision you are taking because if Hondoq is destroyed it cannot be turned back into its original position!
We are in favor of transforming the quarry into a National Park but not in favor of the proposed project! This is just a Monster out of its place!
We people of Qala are proud that of having beach like this!! Let’s SAVE it!! Come on people of Qala don’t give up in front of those who want to get rid of Hondoq! Let our peace and union reign in between each one of us as it always was, and save our natural environment. Hondoq, we people of Qala and all those who are against the project, are here to protect you till the end!
Dear People of Qala don’t be afraid to show that you and your beloved ones are from the Qala and that you are here to save Hondoq!
Keep your sea as it was from the very beginning: NO TO QALA CREEK AND YES TO THE SALVATION OF HONDOQ!!
Michael Carol Bartolo
‘National Household Travel Survey: http://nhts2010.gov.mt/subpage.aspx?itemid=11
NSO 2005 Population Census: http://www.nso.gov.mt/statdoc/document_view.aspx?id=2465