Let's face the truth and admit that in the past 45 years, the environment and our heritage when it comes to old buildings, houses of character, all of which are part and parcel of our identity, culture, tradition and Maltese architecture have been totally neglected. The Mintoffian Regime started it all in the 70s, demolishing some of the most beautiful villas on the Sliema front and despite, the NP came all out saying, Mintoff had a score to settle with Sliema for being a NP fortress, they continued with the building mania after they won the elections. Not only, but the mania spread like cancer all over the rest of the island. In 2013, the stats read that Malta had the highest percentage of built up areas, by 33% in Europe. Are we for real - are we even aware of the size of this island, or do we think we are in some other country like the US, which incidentally only has about 9% built up areas, when there are 360 million people living there! Does this comparison with tiny Malta even make sense to anyone. Of course not, but consecutive administrations have been led by the nose mostly by businessmen, the majority of which were building contractors. The government gives them whatever they want, no matter where the development is proposed to make a quick buck - at our expense of course! Probably at this point ,in time even a block of apartments in the middle of Mdina will happen , In exchange contractors support the parties by sponsoring their advertising requirements during the elections. Today, few fools are unaware of this ugly fact. I think it's a fantastic idea to protect ODZ areas the way Dr Grech suggested but I would go a step further. This is not just a question of protecting only our natural environment, but also our building heritage, mostly historic buildings, or buildings with unique features, that deserve a conservation order. However health should precede all the above and a new government MUST think about the quality of life of the whole population. Because of the building mania that has been ongoing for the past 10 years, people have fallen ill both physically, or mentally. Some died of cancer and asthma but others were buried alive beneath the rubble and the 'lucky ones' that survived ended sup living in their cars, like Janet Walker and many others like her. So now, every time construction works are taking place, such as is happening next to my cousin's house in Fleet Street, Gzira, people who cannot afford lawyers and architects are suffering huge amounts of stress, starting from day one when the works started and will continue until they are completed. My cousin has two boys and her husband living in their house and the building contractor who is one of the many thugs working on similar sites doesn't give a damn about the people next door. Then we wonder why the rate of suicide has risen to incredible heights ,with one person committing suicide every day, aged between 13 and 30! Then we wonder what is all this road rage about, why a huge percentage of people are on tranquilizers or other drugs. It's simple, consecutive governments are supporting the building industry to create claustrophobic eye-sores, that cost an arm and a leg and that only the rich can afford. The ludicrous thing about all this is that there are as many apartments as there are people, not to mention old buildings which could have been restored and utilized and which would not have hassled the whole population. A bank today will give a maximum loan to an average wage earner of Euros 60,000 - try purchasing an apartment with that budget. There are people buying garages and turning them into their residence. When was Malta ever in such a ridiculous situation? All this to make the privileged few richer, and the poor even poorer! Shame on us all. So my idea is we should give power to the people. How about putting actions where our mouths are and being really democratic? Introduce a law which states that in ANY street where a permit is requested to demolish a house, FIRST, the building contractor will have to have ALL the signatures of the residents living in that street who are going to be affected by all the grief and suffering brought by the building activity. If there is a single signature saying NO. Then the contractor need not even apply for permits, because this law would not be allow it! Now we come to my personal experience. I was forced out of my home twice in the past 20 years. The first was from a house in St. Julian's, thanks to the NP when they decided to turn my village where I was born into a red light district where every weekend all the local and foreign hooligans would converge upon it their thousands and then from Msida, when the cancerous spread of buildings made it impossible for me to continue living in a dust, diesel and noise polluted area. So, I made the big move of buying a house, I could not afford in Balzan, in a road which used to be known as Triq il-Villel. Not only but with every purchasing contract for land or residences, there was a clause that said one could not build high-rise building. This was all to be dedicated to villas, terraced houses and bungalows. Today, within the last 8 years, five blocks of apartments replaced five beautiful villas right opposite my home. So during all this time, I was once more subjected to noise and dust pollution, parking hassles, closed streets and roads and eventually developed asthma and severe eye allergies. I spend a fortune on inhalers, eye drops and constant regular visits to my GP and an eye specialist because of the health issues that came thanks to all this unsustainable development. But as if that's not enough, my skyline and views from my entertainment area on the roof which cost me over Euros 50,000 are now gone and when we have supper in this area, my privacy is gone as well because I have people in front peeking at me all the time sometimes even in their underwear. Wonderful! Perhaps it's about time this laissez faire attitude by different administrations whereby building contractors can do whatever the hell they like, without any consequences should be stopped NOW. My house until these buildings were given the green light, was evaluated at over Euros 900, 000, now it's depreciated by Euros 100,000 because there are no views and no privacy. Furthermore, I am informed by my own sources (I am a journalist and writer by profession with far reaching contacts even abroad) that this road is condemned and will end up another jungle of concrete. And I believe it will happen unless, the NP steps up, forgets about infra-structure being the 'motor of the economy' and issues an order, not to MEPA - MEPA has to be removed asap, but to another private institution that there should be no more buildings unless its refurbishments to the existing villas and bungalows. And if they are replacing the building, the height has to remain the same as that of the same purchased building. MEPA has to be investigated because the amount of permits issued even where it was clear these same permits shouldn't have been , wreaks of corruption. I would stake any amount of money that the members have been having a whale of a time at the population's expense. Furthermore, there should be laws that do not allow buildings to overlook onto the properties of others, such as the one opposite my house which not only has taken my privacy but the privacy of the villa next to it, when back galleries were built looking directly into its garden and swimming pool area. Who is going to reimburse us for the depreciation of our properties - the government, or the thugs who built these monstrosities or maybe the MEPA members who allowed this rife corruption? When I spoke with Dr Grech about this issue, he said that this is a problem that wherever you cut will cause bleeding! Oh yes, I don't see the building contractors bleeding or sweating, it's Messrs John citizens like myself that are bleeding because we are the ones suffering from all this chaos, the anarchy and rebus and the fact that citizens are only called upon by politicians when they need their vote! When we need them they are nowhere to be seen. This has got to stop. Creating a law to protect ODZ areas is a must and should have happened in 1987, when the NP were in government, not four decades after. The people are the ones who are suffering and it's about time the government creates laws and regulations to protect his citizens. So far, no administration had the guts, or the balls to kick the asses of the building contractors who now own the island. We were never governed by politicians - it was either building contractors, rich people, businessmen or criminals. Now it's even worse! Tied with the above sagas is the reason behind why we are already experiencing an exodus of young professionals. I personally know at least two dozen of these young people who specialize in various fields, medicine, IT, music, engineering and education who have left the island. All these have left to seek pastures new because as one of them told me before departing, he wants to be able to give his family, especially his kids a quality and healthy life, something that we do not have any more. All this young man was seeing around him were concrete forests! Incidentally there are over 77 thousand people suffering from respiratory problems, all due to dust and diesel pollution. Some have lung cancer, others like me severe eye allergies and asthma. The medicines we buy to keep us thriving are not even on the government scheme for free medicines and these medicines cost a small fortune. I know a lot of people because I am 63 and embarked on my journalistic career at 17. I was employed as a freelancer with Independence Print, now Media Link and just turned 20 joined The Times of Malta. I am a writer, poet, editor, copywriter and PR, ran my own business for 20 years and edited two nation-wide distributed magazines in Malta. that being said, my work is well known in Canada, the USA, Cuba and the UK. I was also twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize in the USA by two different publishers within four months and hired as an associate poetry editor with a leading literary magazine in 2017 in New York. So I've been around and know what people expect. Dr Grech needs to tell people what he is planning especially that there will be NO RECONCILIATION with the criminal regime when these are investigated and found guilty. People expect justice like they expected in the 80s after the Mintoffian Regime had caused so much suffering to people but because of the 'reconciliation' all those cabinet louts walked free and the main culprit was given a state funeral. Imagine after WWI giving a state funeral to Mussolini - there would have been civil war. I believe it was one of the reasons, Fenech Adami lost the election to Alfred Sant. Many people felt they had been cheated because no pone was punished except for the Police commissioner. Dr Grech needs to wake up and face facts - we are not dealing with a political party but with criminals and assassins, organized crime and the Mafia. I also think he should address them for what they are because I would call Robert Abela by his real name Don Robberto Abela !!! He needs to raise the hackles on the necks of the crowds and he needs to show people the NP is going to save Malta once more from its current journey to perdition. There are still people who doubt him because they do not believe he is tough enough! Another point if we really want to win this election, we need Dr Delia and Dr Grech to unite their people together. To do this a mediator would be necessary but consider that he has to be a non-politician. He needs to ne a patriot and both these men must remember that after all, they both want the same things for Malta. Other differences can be settled after they are in government. It's crucial now Delia starts to accompany Dr Grech as a show of unity. We should also start thinking about uniting other small forces like the Republika, the PD and the Alternativa. This is a race to the finish and if this criminal regime wins another term it will take 15 years for a NP government to get us out of all this muck! I have spoken with other NP party members and should you wish to query my comments or ask questions please feel free to contact me on 77702867 or 99498927 or my landline, 21441150. Dr Lawrence Gonzi knows me because he is family . Hope you consider some of these suggestions because this country needs a complete overhaul. Stay safe
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