CCTV camera tracking of trucks needed through Qala
|Email item||Print item||
By Paul Buttigieg, Vice Mayor, Qala Local Council.
“For years now I have been highlighting the illegal activities of a quarry owner in Qala who has dumped thousands of tons of rubble, excavated from various parts of Gozo, on an area of virgin land known as ta-Muxi. During the process many rubble walls were knocked down, and flora and fauna destroyed.
The council had written to the authorities to take action, but only when I went on national television showing a film of the illegal dumping actually taking place, did MEPA put an enforcement notice on this site.
“The quarry owner is now trying to sanction the illegal dumping by covering it up with top soil and planting olive trees. I organised an objection letter to MEPA where some 28 land owners affected by the dumping asked MEPA to make the quarry owner remove the illegal waste from their fields.
“The quarry was given its permit in 1998, one condition being that the trucks should not pass through the village core but by an alternative route known as tas-Simar, which passes through fields and would cause minimal disruption to Qala residents. However, the trucks use Wileg and Conception Streets instead, where they disturb many households with noise and diesel fumes.
“To ease the traffic of heavy trucks from the village, the council had organised for Wileg Street to be one-way for trucks, but these regulations are ignored as the trucks still use this street as a two-way route. The narrowness of the road, the violation of the one-way system and the excessive speed of the trucks, has been the cause of several accidents.
“Sometimes wardens or police have patroled Wileg Street to book trucks contravening the one-way ruling, but not surprisingly when police are there, no contraventions take place.
“For 2 years now I have been suggesting the installation of CCTV cameras along Wileg, Conception and Simar Streets. This way the trucks will know they are being monitored and act appropriately or face financial penalties and/or revokation of the quarry permits for failure to comply with conditions.
“(The Hondoq EIA actually proposed that all traffic to Hondoq should also pass through tas-Simar Street. Considering it seems impossible to enforce the law on just one contractor, how can one hope to enforce the law on those thousands of people that visit Hondoq every year?)
“Another condition for the permit was that the quarry owner should pay 2000 liri (4600 euros) per annum to cover damages made to local streets. After 14 years I am unaware of the council receiving one cent of this money.
“After living all my life in Qala, being 5½ years on the council, listening to the complaints of residents, numerous meetings with various authorities and after seeing with my own eyes what is happening, I strongly believe that the only solution is to install CCTV cameras at strategic points in Wileg, Conception and Simar Steets.
“The council has already requested that MEPA install, and maintain such a system, since this is the only way to ensure that all heavy trucks pass through the streets they are meant to, as per the permit conditions set out by MEPA.”