The planned development of a 71-room apartment building on the idyllic stretch of rural farmland on Triq il Qortin has Nadur residents up-in-arms against the destruction of their land.
Numerous residents from Nadur as well as around Gozo have voiced their concerns and disapprovals about the planned construction that will lay waste to rural farmland and upset daily life. Development is planned on Triq il-Qortin, the direct road to the beautiful beaches and bays of San Blas and Dahlet Qorrot. The land has never been developed; it is a prime example of the beauty of Gozo, with numerous vegetation, flowers, and scenery. Tourists and residents alike enjoy the peaceful setting, away from the hustle and bustle of Malta and the busy town of Victoria in Gozo. The Gozitan way of life is still very prevalent in this area and the natural wonders draw many admirers to the idyllic landscape.
It has become almost common place to see a construction site boom across all corners of our island. The peaceful landscape of Malta and Gozo has been decimated by incomplete construction sites, closed roads, congested traffic, aided and abetted by a government that favors the rights of developers over the lively hood of their residents.
Residents fear that the construction will deeply impact their every day lives, and evidence certainly supports their fears. Numerous construction sites in Malta that have collapsed due to poorly enforced infrastructure. One of the most heartbreaking cases was that of Miriam Pace of Hamrun, who was killed last March when her home collapse because of an excavation in neighboring buildings. A worker in Zabbar and a worker in Mgarr also lost their lives due to construction accidents. Many of these sites go unfinished and pose additional safety risks as debris deteriorates from underuse. Construction across Malta has also impacted the cultural history of our island. A 17th century wall in San Anton Palace and an 18th century house near Cittadella were destroyed due to poor construction in neighboring sites.
Some argue that construction will benefit the country by bringing commerce and additional job opportunities to immigrant workers. However, the conditions these workers face is akin to domestic slavery; with poor work conditions and insufficient pay, many workers are afraid to speak out. An article from the Times of Malta reported these poor conditions, yet the workers withheld their names to avoid being fired. Developers are not concerned with the betterment of workers, the integrity of Maltese heritage, the beauty and importance of the landscape, or the opinions of the residents. They are only concerned with lining their own pockets and pillaging whatever land they can by any means necessary.
Across Gozo, developers are infiltrating once untouched areas, like Zebbug, Xlendi and Marsalforn. Before our very eyes, Gozo is turning into a battleground of empty buildings, halted construction areas and closed roads, with no end in sight. Unlike Malta, Gozo simply does not have the space for additional buildings. Traffic on the island has increased significantly, along with noise and air pollution. The significantly smaller island is not equipped to deal with growing traffic and commercial development, and developers are pushing the limits of what the island can take.
When discussing development in Gozo, we must think to the future; what will our island look like in 10 years?
In order to preserve Gozo, we must stand up against unnecessary development that threatens the natural life and daily routine of residents. We must set the precedent for future developers, for codes to be enforced to ensure safe working conditions, and construction restricted to necessary projects only. We must set the precedent for the future, and demand our voices be beard.
And there is something we can do! We can object to these development proposals before they are approved by the Planning Authority. We have every right as citizens. The time is now.
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Feature photo taken by Jamie Buttigieg