Xlendi Bay regeneration must make it accessible to everyone
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“Ministers Dr Konrad Mizzi and Dr Justyne Caruana recently revealed their joint plans towards the regeneration of Xlendi Bay in Gozo.
It is a resort which is popular with locals and foreigners alike and draws towards it a multitude of visitors who enjoy the picturesque views it offers.
It is to be recommended that the eroded sandy beach be replenished, boathouses regenerated and parking slots created.
All such renovations are in order considering the reputation of the locality as a favourite seaside resort for families. However, planning needs also to take into serious consideration the accessibility to the promenade.
It is a logical consequence to have restaurants, bars and cafes springing up like mushrooms in a touristic area such as Xlendi.
Yet, it is also the right of all citizens to enjoy the open space required for families, holiday-makers and persons with disability to enjoy a relaxed time without having to queue up for the possibility to move around.
Space allotted to restaurant tables and vending stalls necessitates careful planning and wise decision-making in order to allow for the much appreciated commercial activity, but no less for the free and undeterred enjoyment of the space belonging to the general public.
With the proposed regeneration project, it stands to reason that the number of people choosing Xlendi Bay as their entertainment option tends to increase. Consequently the swimming area, as presently limited, results in being even more restricted.
During the Summer months, the unpleasant experience of swimmers bumping into each other due to lack of space has already been a sore point. So, there is hope that this issue be considered for a positive solution in the proposed plan.
One crucial point regarding the accessibility of the area to persons with disability is of concern to all stakeholders in the sector. Considering the usurping of the embankments by the commercial sector flourishing in Xlendi, one can hardly imagine the possibility of wheelchair bound persons to ever be granted the opportunity to enjoy an afternoon at the resort.
With the congestion created by the external extensions to the restaurants, persons with mobility impairments quit even the very thought of reaching the area, let alone stroll in their own way along the embankment.
The Malta Federation of Organisations Persons with Disability (MFOPD) appeals to the authorities concerned to include genuine and earnest consideration with regards to the rights of persons with disability at the outset of any planning targeted for Xlendi Bay.
Disability is no hindrance from pleasure of the simple beauties of nature, nor from the right to enjoy seaside outings at beaches belonging to the general public.”
Maria Pia Gauci
Malta Federation of Organisations Persons with Disability.
Photograph by Alain Salvary