In the past week ELSA MALTA released a social policy paper regarding Congestion on Our Island.
ELSA Malta’s policy paper, ‘Congestion on Our Island’ aims to investigate the main causes of congestion in Malta and propose solutions from both a legal and a social perspective. ELSA Malta realises that such an issue cannot merely be seen from one standpoint, but may be compared to a machine, where the malfunction of an individual cog stalls the workings of said machine entirely. Emphasis must be made on both the social perspective and the legal perspective combined: combating citizen’s apathy may not be so clean cut as amending legislation.
In a meeting this week with Hon. Joe Mizzi and Transport Malta’s CEO James Piscopo, we discussed the proposal paper and put forward ideas and possible remedies to better the situation on our island. Our proposal paper was commented upon by Hon. Mizzi as well, referring to it as “bold and daring”. ELSA Malta remains committed to contributing ideas and research when different controversial topics and issues are being discussed on a national level. This is what it really means to be pro-active in social policy. Discussion is good, but proposals are better to provoke change.
‘Congestion on Our Island’ divides one main problem into 2 key aspects, that being horizontal and vertical congestion, and then further divides those aspects into sub-topics, which were analysed and argued individually. To begin with, ELSA Malta feels that the lack legal remedies in relation to Solar Rights has no place in today’s day and age. A comparative analysis with California, amongst other countries and relevant jurisdictions, was given to attempt to give a framework of what possible legislation regarding the issue could look like. Furthermore, the paper also brings about the need that in relation to the effects of high rise buildings, the long-term implications of the affected land must also be given. ELSA Malta also suggests that the notion of certain sites having legal personhood be looked into thoroughly.
In relation to horizontal congestion, that is congestion which pertains more to traffic found on our rounds, ELSA Malta realises the need for public transport to be held in better esteem, in order for citizens to opt out of using their own private vehicles. An analysis of the Tallinn (Estonia) public transport system has been made, hopefully to serve as an example of what can be achieved through an improved public transport systems. That being said, Malta is immensely over-populated and private vehicle statistics are no better. For this reason, ELSA Malta looks at Singapore’s ‘Certificate of Entitlement’ system, and the possibility of implementing such a system in Malta. The paper also realises the potential of the currently established boat system, and opts for more incentives to be used, and possibly more funding allocated to ensure a more frequent and reliable system.
ELSA Malta felt that the problem of congestion has finally reached a bottleneck and will snap if something is not done to combat it. Private transportation is considered a necessity yet it proves to be a stick in the cog machine. This, accompanied by the lack of efficiency offered by public transport, create a vicious cycle which is strenuous to break. Public transport should not be considered to be a sacrifice in today’s day and age, but rather a superior alternative to private transportation, both in terms of finance and efficiency. That being said, ELSA Malta strives to be the voice of change, to offer solutions to such a problem and bring life to the apathetic citizen. One must not undermine the power of the average citizen to alter such a situation. Rather, the government must offer more to the citizen as an incentive for bettering the island by using public transport. Combatting social apathy is not as simple as changing legislation however, the citizen must feel that it is worth his time to move out of his comfort zone and move away from his private vehicle.
A copy of the paper could be found online at www.elsa.org.mt or else on ELSA Malta’s Facebook page/ISSUU page.