Optimistic and progressive views about Gozo – By Lino Debono
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“The outlook of an individual can be assessed immediately if one has an optimistic view or a negative one. Any person who views life in a positive way, is joyful, has a way of seeing the goodness and views others in a positive and creative way, can easily be assessed by other people who tend to seek this person’s companionship.
If on the other hand, a person tends to be negative, always complaining and seeing other people’s defects, this also can be easily assessed as others will shy away from this person’s company.
Progress therefore can be assessed on similar lines. Time stands still for no one. Progress has been continuous from the first days of earth and humanity. One that has enjoyed old age and had seen the changes that has happened in our island of Gozo, can easily verify the great changes that has changed the mentality and way of living.
One would simply say that our life changed from “Rags to Riches.” From no electricity – drainage – water – showers or bathrooms in houses, not even toilet paper, to lavish houses with all the modern facilities that we, the people, can now enjoy and use.
One need only to say that till 1971, Gozo and Comino, had only the service of just 217 telephone lines, which were only installed in Governmental Offices – Police Stations and some businesses plus the only few medical doctors we then had.
Now all the kids and most of all the people can be seen with mobile phones as if it’s the most normal thing in the world.
So from two tins attached with a piece of string, used when as kids to talk with each other, we are now using the latest and most modern methods of communications available in the world.
For some who want to live in yesteryear this progress is no good, but the majority of people have accepted it with open arms and have adapted to this new way of life.
Gozo Ministry Statements
I wrote another two articles for the Times of Malta some weeks ago which are still awaiting publication, In one of them I referred to all the progress made by the Gozo Ministry.
In today’s article I will also continue with this line to show that yes, Gozo, is making large progressive steps forward.
We have just had the announcement that the Helicopter Service between Gozo and Malta will be re-introduced. This announcement was made by the Hon Gozo Minister Dr Justyne Caruana and the Hon Minister Dr Konrad Mizzi.
Dr Caruana has been working for quite some time behind the scenes to achieve the handover of the Gozo Heliport. For those with some political know how, one can imagine that this was not an easy task.
The Helicopter Service has to be heavily subsidised as the past clearly shows the high cost involved in operating such a service.
But, with all this in mind the Gozo Minister, due to her determination has achieved a major investment for Gozo. Well done to one and all involved.
Apart from the acquisition of Ghar Gerduf, another major achievement for local historical aspects, the Gozo Ministry also announced new budget measures for Gozitan students, workers, hospital patients and relatives accompanying them to the Mater Dei Hospital, who will all travel free between the islands.
This important measure will help alleviate their substantial travelling expenses, in addition the costs of Gozo Channel tickets will be refunded to all workers travelling across to work in Malta.
Gozitans working in Malta will also get additional allowances if, and when organising private transport to and from work. Additional financial benefits of 650 euros for government employees that travel daily and 525 euros for those that attend fewer days were also introduced.
Gozitan workers employed within the private sector in Malta will also get 300 euros per year to cover their travelling expenses.
A high level Chinese delegation also crossed over to Gozo to discuss with the authorities the possibilities of future investment in Gozo.
In the meantime it was announced that almost 6 million passengers used the Gozo Channel during the year. This contrasts with the not so distant past when only what the Gozitans used to call “The Village Chaplain” to cross over from Malta to Gozo on Tuesdays and Thursdays bringing with them baskets full of bread.
As I have said and written in many reviews and articles, I am 100% in favour of the connectivity between Gozo – the mainland and therefore to the outside world. Views are divisive. Some want time to stand still, as is.
Others say that Gozo will be inundated by cars. That Gozo will lose its rural aspects, etc. etc. All view this project from their personal expectations and aspects. Each and every one of all the people have a right to say and express their views.
Others still like to see the horses – donkeys – mules cantering from one village to the next as in past days.
This means that Gozo should stick with the title “The Island Where Time Stood Still.” Maybe this will also mean when Gozitan homes had no water – electricity – drainage – fridges – cookers – so on and so forth.
A very innovative third aspect was presented by the Hon Prime Minister Dr. Joseph Muscat, when he addressed a Labour Party Conference in Victoria recently, where he proposed that when the tunnel is built, a free bus service will be introduced from Victoria to the University – Mater Dei Hospital – Valletta, etc.
If this is implemented it would solve the issues of excessive cars crossings to and from, and the expense of the metro which some say will be too costly – it will mean less travelling time for Gozitans and also immediate access to different points without more vehicles on our roads.
I would opt for this option if it becomes a feasible reality.
So yes, as I see it, Gozo and the Gozitans as a whole are in the process of great achievements. Capital personal income is being enjoyed by the majority of Gozitans. Business is booming even during the winter shoulder months, whilst in the past shops – hotels – farmhouses had to close to be opened again in summer. Now Gozo is enjoying an all year round touristic influx.
Progress also brings with it counter problems. It is for the authoritative planners to plan and solve these new problems. Therefore let us, as stated in the article’s opening, view things in a positive and optimistic view instead of dwelling on the negative aspects.”
Photograph by Alain Salvary