• Jacob Sammut

Hail the Trees

Updated: Mar 30

Protests Malta
A woman is tied to a tree, her plaque making it clear that trees should not be the victims of this project.

The current Maltese government has started a plethora of roadworks over the past few years but none has been more controversial than the “Central Link Project”; a project that is to join Mosta and Mriehel via a single main road. The need for such a road? The government believes it will help to reduce the traffic that gathers between these two towns at peak hours. Others, however, believe that the traffic has been building up even more ever since the roadworks actually started. This is not why the people were gathering on Sunday the 28th of July 2019. The Maltese people are well renowned for welcoming improvements to everyday life. The citizens are flooding the streets because of the large number of trees the government has decided to up-root.

Protests Malta
Ian Borg minister of Infrastructure Malta and mastermind of this Project, his face here on one of the many plaques held by the protestors.

The importance of trees in our lives has always been known to us, and yet, no matter how much other countries argue and emphasize our need for trees to fight off global warming, we are still encountering certain nations, some big, others small, who would prefer to ignore this warning and act like stubborn children wanting to follow their own agenda no matter at whose expense. The decision to up-root the trees and the reclamation of the farmlands to widen the streets has already been taken and it is up to the people of Malta to have their voices heard.

Some people have gathered to defend the ancient trees which stood there for many year, now sentenced to death while others have joined out of the fear of not knowing what will happen to their livelihood once the government claims part of their lands so as to complete the project. Promises have been made that other trees shall be replanted, replacing mature trees with new 4m trees and not saplings, but to many that is barely a substitute. Another promise stated that through the new project the region will benefit from an extra 285 more trees than currently present, and as much as that is an improvement it is still less than half of the trees required by ERA Regulations. The number needed would be of 1,649 and not meeting this target would have the government pay a €500 fine for every tree that is not planted. Infrastructure Malta has also promised that not all trees would be discarded seeing that a number of them are protected and that another percentage are to be transplanted in the same project area followed by the replanting of new trees to compensate for the uprooted trees but no information has been made available as to how many trees shall be planted nor where. It is through this lack of available information that Maltese people are furious. Promises are quite useless to people when what they want is facts.

I drove past the already gathering crowds of people. Some were there with their entire families whilst others were the