Lets consider the alternatives to a tunnel between the islands
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Readers Letter – “We often have heated arguments when for instance in our village square, we meet on the ‘Zuntier.’
Yesterday evening a man fired off a discussion by this opening statement, ‘my daughter left work at 3.00pm and got to Cirkewwa an hour later only to find a massive queue in front of her and could only board the 6.00pm ferry.
Creating a tunnel, he said will solve that problem. Others did not agree and we kept on arguing till twilight. The majority ruled that the main problem is of Gozitans working and studying in Malta. A huge % of them chose to live in Malta and doing this they are creating a geriatric community in Gozo.
Simon proposed to populate Gozo by Maltese people. I would not dare to repeat the comments uttered on this bright idea!
A wise elderly person in our Piazza cluster said that if the tunnel is built many students will still stay in Malta. Asked why he thought so, he replied. ‘Well many would not be able to go by car because they would not find a parking space in Malta, so the Tunnel is not viable for them and those who would be able to drive, the drive will take hours. There will be a rush hour in the tunnel as in any other road.’
Imagine when the students end classes, many of them will congregate and go for the tunnel at the same time, thus creating a slow entrance and even a queue even if they have a prepaid magnetic card payment system which will not need them to stop and insert their ticket into a slot. This will also happen with Gozitan workers as they conclude their day roughly on the same hour.
At present when a ferry unloads its carriage cargo there is an unbreakable snake of cars from Mgarr to Victoria. Side road traffic usually has to wait till all cars proceed to Victoria so that they can exit on the main road. With the Tunnel, there will be a very long long uninterrupted snake and the side roads and roundabouts are blocked for hours at end.
Apart from Gozitans returning home after a day’s work or study, there are the Maltese who too would like to go to Gozo for a meal or drink and they also would roughly travel to Gozo, after work, after having a shower, pick up their family and head on to the tunnel.
We are talking of maybe 4 hours-time window when these Maltese visitors would decide to go to Gozo in which many Gozitans would also use that same window of time and God help us then!
If the problem is Gozitan workers and students then the best option is to build a fast tram, in the water, over or under the sea bed, land or hill and country side which will take and bring back these Gozitan pedestrians in the shortest time possible and here we are talking of a 24 hr. tram service which will take around 30m to complete the trip from Valletta to say; the outskirts of Victoria Gozo (maybe near Ta’ Xhajma).
One of the carriages would be equipped like an ambulance and sick people can also be transferred in this way. The pickup Ambulance would be able to park right up to the carriage.
Most of the Gozitans will return to Gozo each day as the trip is relatively short and therefore no need to wake up so early each morning. This will also solve the geriatric situation.
The Tram station will have an ample parking for the Gozitan to park his or her car from where they are able to go home to various directions. There could also be inexpensive taxi tariffs and buses for Victoria terminal, especially for tourists.
Maltese tourists can continue to do their crossings in their cars on the ferry. No problem there! They have plenty of time to do so.
But what could be done ‘NOW’ for our friend’s daughter who after a day on the job, had to wait for 2 hrs. at Cirkewwa queueing behind joy riders and visitors who travel in style in their AC rentals? (Massive air polluting is carried on in Cirkewwa waiting for the ferry with car running, to use their AC)
Our wise elderly companion came up with this proposition. He presented the different types of travellers by automobiles. You have Gozitan workers and students, there are hospital ambulances and coaches, tradesmen, big lorries with supplies such as gas and drinks and there are Maltese visitors and tourists.
We have to first categorise and then prioritise. We did classify the groups and now we can rank the groups. The most important are the hospital vehicles, rescue and anything which has to do with health emergencies. These, in fact, have the faculty to just drive ahead and jump the queue. This is fair and correct.
Can this be extended to our second most important group? The Gozitan work force and the students? Already they (with all Gozitans and Maltese with a (G) I.D.) enjoy a discount, also fair and just, but wouldn’t it be also fair to help them get home earlier to spend time with their loved ones before they have to go back to work in Malta the next day?
While the Maltese have much more than the Gozitan citizen in their fingertips, as, place of work, offices, shops and so on, the Gozitan has to spend many hours of their life in travelling through and forth between the islands.
Isn’t it fair to concede a secure bar coded card to Gozitan workers who when they get to Cirkewwa (or even Mgarr) they will have precedence over all other travellers and go to a special line-up track which will load on the ferry first?
Strict surveillance and control on these cards should be taken and harsh punishments on those who misuse them. We are talking of Gozitan workers and students and not of Gozitans. Otherwise, the entire world will get a (G) I.D Card.
Employer and Dean of University are to issue a document which dictates that his employee and/or student is actively working or studying in Malta and he or she is the owner of a car and with Licence plates etc.
We all agreed that it is rational to aid these special commuters to get them home as fast as humanly possible until we have the tunnel and the tram.
Gozo Channel does not lack brains behind its administration and now with a very open minded and great hearted Minister, things will surely get better.
My friend said that if this came to be and my daughter would have come home 2 hrs. earlier our life would be so much more dignified. We hate that she has to go to Malta but better there than immigrate to a far country like my parents had to do!”
Photograph by Alain Salvary