Published on The Malta Independent on Sunday on 15th July, 2007 by A. Xerri
The Hondoq ir-Rummien EIA is based on half-truths and mostly in favour of the developer. It gives one the feeling that some of these people who produced this assessment have never even been to, or know, where Hondoq Ir Rummien is located.
First of all, how can this beautiful pristine bay enjoyed by hundreds of people in winter, and thousands in summer, people from all over the world you might say, be called, and I quote from the EIA, “a dumping site”. There was never a report from anybody complaining that this bay was full of garbage, contrary to what the EIA states. Foreign residents and Maltese people invested in property in Qala and the rest of Gozo to enjoy this bay.
These are the people EIA should have checked with, not somebody out of the blue who does not know anything about this bay or care about it.
The EIA also states that the beach will not be affected by the construction of Qala Creek Project. This is not true. Who in his right mind is going to swim or enjoy the nature of this place when noise, dust mixed with diesel fumes, and explosions from rock blasting, only metres away will be the order of the day for the next five years?
If bathing is allowed during the five years of construction somebody might get killed. The reason is that the road is not wide enough to take a dump truck and a car travelling in opposite directions. The road between the Conception Sanctuary and the Rim Rock Chapel is too narrow. It is estimated that a dump truck will use this road every four minutes. MEPA take note that if the project gets the go ahead the beach and the road to the Rim Rock Chapel has to be closed from day one for the duration of this project.
Consider the size of these trucks that will be passing only two feet away from the wall of the Conception Sanctuary, which is hundreds of years old and enriched with graffiti from the day it was built. Is this the way we are trying to protect our heritage? Does anybody from the Gozo Diocese read the EIA or know about this? Does the person or persons in charge of these things care?
The EIA does not mention that some of the residents living in the Conception hamlet are going to be disturbed and even sickened by loud noise, diesel fumes and dust since these huge trucks will be driving only two or three feet away from their houses and going up a very steep narrow hill. The EIA did not mention, for the developer’s benefit, that we already have a huge problem here with dump trucks servicing the quarries. These trucks use all the major roads including Qala Square and have polluted this village making many people sick with some dying of cancer. These trucks together with the trucks from the Qala Creek Project means that a truck per minute or less will pass through this little hamlet. Already there are rumblings from foreign residents that they will pack up and leave Gozo. Some of them came from the Sliema and Mellieha areas to get away from construction. Just think how they will brand Gozo if they go.
It is also not true that this project will employ 600 workers during construction, and when completed in five years’ time, will offer another 600 permanent jobs. How could this be possible when all the hotels, including the yacht marinas in Gozo don’t have this many employees?
MEPA should never issue permits for the Qala Creek Project based on this EIA alone; another EIA must be done that protects the people of Qala and Gozo as a whole. This EIA is another attempt to steamroller the people of Qala, as this government tried to do with the referendum on this project. This government is doing nothing to protect the people of this village. There is nothing that is good for Qala where the environment is concerned; the Health and Safety Department is unheard of. Some of the streets in Qala are rated the most polluted in Gozo. Starting from the quarries and dump trucks circling the village 12 hours a day six days a week spewing diesel fumes dust and making unbearable noise that affects people’s health in the narrowest of roads. And now, they want to add the Qala Creek Project that will give pollution a boost and a higher count.
It will be humiliating for the residents of Qala village and Gozo in general and a threat to democracy if permits are issued to build the Qala Creek project at Hondoq Ir-Rummien, as 85 per cent of the residents have already voted against this project in a referendum held by the Qala council.