Times of Malta, 12 August 2008, by Cynthia Busuttil –

A new committee appointed to address rehabilitation projects in Valletta is preparing a masterplan which aims to standardise the streets and pavements in the capital city.

Resources Minister George Pullicino also stressed the importance of ensuring that the capital’s streets and pavements are rendered safe for pedestrians.

Valletta’s pavements have long been criticised for their poor state. Just yesterday, a reader who wrote to The Times complained that Valletta’s pavements are not wheelchair friendly, with the wheels constantly getting stuck in the uneven paving tiles and cracks, bumps and potholes.

Last October, Martin Scicluna, the former executive president of Din l-Art Ħelwa, described the city’s pavements as “a hazard and a national disgrace”.

Speaking during the first joint meeting of the newly appointed rehabilitation committees for Valletta and Floriana, Mdina and Cottonera, Mr Pullicino said it hurts him to see some 11 different types of pavements in the capital city.

“This is not the way things should be done,” he said, adding that the masterplan will categorise streets and pavements with the aim of introducing a more uniform look around Valletta. The three former rehabilitation committees dealing with the three regions have been restructured so that a single seven-strong core team will sit on each committee and each one will be chaired by the same person, architect Marie Louise Musumeci. Other members of the committees will include representatives of local councils. The new system, he said, should bring about a more consistent and coordinated approach, with a national body looking at the needs of Malta’s fortified historic cities.

Speaking to The Times, Ray Bondin – who is on the committee representing Heritage Malta – expressed his belief that other committees should be set up for other historic towns, like Rabat and Victoria.

Dr Bondin has long been associated with the rehabilitation committees, having headed all three from when they were set up in the 1980s until he resigned a year ago.

“I hope that the committees will continue with the work which has already been started, especially those projects which have not yet been finished,” he said, adding that these included the interior of Our Lady of Victory church and the Jesuit church.

Dr Bondin said he agreed with the concept of having a core committee which was present on each of the three committees.