Marsaskala Local Council Elections 2019: your right to vote.

A recent Times of Malta article stated that over 18,000 EU nationals are registered to vote during the European Parliament (EP) elections in Malta. What does that have to do with Marsaskala, you might ask? Well,  Local Council (LC) elections are due to be held on the 25th May 2019, at the same time as the EP elections . Anybody residing in our locality (be they Maltese or non-Maltese) who has an ID or eResidency card with a Marsaskala address is eligible to exercise their democratic right to vote for one or more of the candidates and have a say in determining the future of our beautiful village.

A good proportion of Marsaskala’s growing population was not born in Malta, but that doesn’t mean they can’t also vote in the LC elections. Indeed, we were always taught that it is one’s duty – as well as one’s right – to vote.  Just follow these three easy steps:

1. Visit the Electoral Registry website and enter your personal identifier details (see screenshot). These should match those on your ID/eResidence card. Click ‘Submit’

Insert your personal information in the fields as requested

2. If you are eligible, you should see a statement like this:
[Name], holder of ID Card Number [1234567M], is registered to vote in the following electoral register/s: LOCAL COUNCILS ELECTORAL REGISTER  published in OCTOBER 2018. You may also be eligible to vote in other elections, as in the example below.

Ensure that you are eligible to vote in the LC elections

3. If you see the above statement and your name is on the register, then all you need to do is wait. Police Officers will attempt to deliver your voting documents to your registered address starting from Sunday 14th April 2019. If no one is at home when the Police Officer calls, you will be able to collect your voting document/s by calling personally at the Police Station (or Local Council in certain localities) of the town or village where you are registered, on presentation of a valid Identity Document (Identity Card or Residence Card) issued by Identity Malta, between Thursday 9th May and Sunday 19th May 2019 (last day till noon). You may also personally collect your voting document/s from the Electoral Commission at the Counting Complex (ex-Trade Fair grounds) in Naxxar between Monday 20th and Thursday 23rd May 2019 (last day till midnight), if you are registered in Malta.

If you do not see the above statement, then have a look at the Electoral Commissions FAQ section. You may also wish to see this list of FAQs for the MEP elections. When one applies for either the e-Identity Card or the eResidence Card, one is automatically applying to be registered as a voter when one completes the relevant application forms.

Happy voting!

Garbage Collection Service – Survey results analysis

54 residents filled in our survey regarding Waste Collection in Marsaskala.

This review analyzes responses given and presents to you tips and (possible) solutions, some of which have been presented by participants of our survey.  

75.9% of respondents find that the current schedule meets their requirements, 22.2% respond in the negative, and 1.9% do not (yet) know. The reactions we received reveal opportunities for improvement.

Main issues reported

  • Many residents anger themselves at the apparent inability and/ or unwillingness of some to adher to collection schedule
    • Various residents have witnessed a number of “so-called temporary residents” and tourists leave their bags outside on the wrong day and / or in the wrong place. Despite being friendly informed that Malta  dictates otherwise, these “visitors” just shrugged their shoulders and did nothing to correct their behaviour.
    • Others angered themselves at some people’s seeming inability to stick to schedule and or contents /bag.

Tip: One respondent took charge of the block where he/she lives, hanging up the collection schedule for all to see, and helping others get the message through.

  • Alternative facilities are necessary for tourists, temporary residents and residents  leaving the country.
    • Good planning and proactivity are just as essential in this part of your vacation as they have been all along. It begins by reducing the amount of waste to be disposed off at the last moment.
    • When that moment arrives Malta offers you the following facilities:
      • Recycables (grey / green bag) can be disposed off at a civic amenity (CA) site but have to be sorted out beforehand into paper / plastic / metal / packaging. In other words the recycables cannot be disposed off in one container. Glass can also be brought to CA site.
      • Mixed waste (black bag) can be brought to CA site provided it does not contain any food. Note that food belongs in the organic bag!
      • Organic bags cannot be brought to a CA site, for this you will have to make alternative arrangements yourself like asking a neighbour or the owner of the appartment / B&B where you have stayed
  • Present schedule does not meet requirements
    • Residents with babies and cats report that their mixed waste (black) and recycable (grey/green) bags fill within a day; in other words, the present schedule does not meet their requirements.

Tip: Kindly go through the three R’s (Reduce, Re-use and Recycle) and think of possible ways you can diminish your waste: be creative and think out of the box! Report your successes to others so that they can benefit too.

  • Vulnerable organic bags
    • The organic (white) bag is flimsy and tears easily. When the white bag contains fish, meat and /or bones, cats and rats are attracted to it, tearing  the white bag apart and littering the environment which in turn attracts rats and flies. Coupled with the windy weather this is an issue for both  our health and our environment.
    • Tips:
      • Wrap fish/meat/bones carefully in newspapers before placing them in the white bag
      • Try making your own compost (wormery if you live in an appartment) and “usual” compost / “worm castings” / both if you have a garden with plenty of space. Composting will decrease your amount of organic waste, but above all, composting enriches the soil, renders plants healthier and better able to ward off disease, and can prove a rewarding hobby to self and the environment.
      • In the summer months residents can place “organic contents” in the deep freezer and get them out of the freezer and into the organic bag on the day of collection.
      • Keeping our own pavement clean especially when organic bags have spilled over or the wind has been at play is something all of us can do.
  • What to do with
    • Mixed waste that is neither small nor bulky and
    • A bag of garden waste when you do not own a car
    • Tips:
      • Call Marsaskala Local Council (telephone number 21637171) to avail yourself of the Bulky Refuse Service, offered free of charge. Check also https://www.wasteservmalta.com/bulkywaste
      • Depending on composition of your garden waste:
        • Rotten fruit and vegetables, fruit and vegetable peels, leaves and flowers go into the organic bag, branches do not – branches go to a Civic Amenity (CA) site.
        • Bundle large stems – devoid of leaves – and about one meter in length together with a string or rope. If you do not have a car or are disabled, call Marsaskala Local Council to check whether your bundle can be collected by the Bulky Refuse Service. If not try to find a neighbour or other resident who can and is willing to help you out.
        • Again here think of making your own compost! https://www.wasteservmalta.com/organicwaste
  • Collection times irregular and inefficient
    Residents complain about irregular / too early / too late collection times. Going through and abiding by the tips given above will help solve some of the present issues. Where the timing is too early for you, strike an agreement with a neighbour who is willing to help you out.
  • Skips are in a poor state and always (over)full.
  • What is missing and what the remedy might be as suggested by participants:
    • More intensive education of citizens
    • Abiding by the rules, if necessay enforcement
    • Respect for self, others and environment
    • Personal leadership
    • Accountability for one’s actions

A resurgence of environmental protection advocacy groups

Lately, a number of environmental “pressure” groups have been sprouting up across our lovely islands. These follow the lead of other recent, successful environmental groups such as Front Harsien ODZ and Kamp Emergenza Ambjent. In no particular order, we have heard from:

Inħobbu l-Gżira – This group is advocating for a sustainable plan for Manoel Island that benefits the whole population. This is an impression of what is at stake:

Image may contain: sky, outdoor and text

Xgħajra Seafront Interest Group – The group was re-kindled recently, after original comments about land reclamation in the past were dismissed, only to surface again now. Multiple articles published on the Times of Malta can be read here and here. James Debono also published an excellent piece on MaltaToday about why land reclamation is a bad idea. Renders of this abomination have not surfaced yet; however, here is something interesting to read on the subject from a country which unfortunately has opted to implement extensive land reclamation. The more sensible Dutch counterpart stopped reclaiming land (the Markermeer) in the Ijsselmeer because of the effect on the eels.

Save the North – The group focuses on large-scale development in the North of Malta and how these are detrimental to our life. The proposed Mistra project is one example.

This is what it would look like:

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Marsaskala Community & Friends – Our own group advocates active citizenship, with the environment being one of 3 pillars that are the back-bone of the community. As the dust has temporarily settled on the Żonqor university given the troubles faced by the AuM, it is time for the Jerma relic to be in the news (again), as documented in this MaltaToday article.

This is a 3D render of what 13 to 15 storeys would look like, taken from the applicant’s Proposal for Development:

A render of the proposed development

It is positive that these groups are not only working for their cause. Fund-raising organized by the Save the North group in order to appeal the Mistra project was a success, with documented donations coming from some of the above groups, hundreds of Maltese and even international contributions. Save the North is encouraging followers of their FaceBook page to attend a MEPA meeting on 7th March regarding the Manoel Island Project. Members of our own group attended the Xghajra meet-up last January 2019, where the group was objecting to possible land reclamation in the vicinity. The latter 2 groups also formally discussed possible ways to collaborate in March 2019 .

This type of collaboration is possibly one of the best ways to not only make our voices heard, but also to trigger discussion and change. When you treat behemoth development projects individually, localities and pressure groups feel stranded and many times the sensation that a decision has already been taken regarding a proposed development reigns supreme. This is well known by developers, who count on this feeling of helplessness to help them roll over any individual resistance and exploit the common good for personal gain.

It is easy to see how the general discontent of the common citizen is increasing to unprecedented levels. The people behind these groups are rarely politically affiliated. The environment belongs to us and to our children. It is sad to see how few politicians take a definite stance against any of these projects. Politicians dwell in grey, blurred lines. A favorite quote of theirs that seems to have become a motto is: “Wieħed irid jara sew l-impatt…” (One needs to closely examine the situation“). How about ‘NO’? How about plucking enough courage to tell it how it is? As much as we would like to steer away from the clichés crying foul at the pocket lining of the few at the detriment of the majority, it is the harsh reality.

A sure way to implement these projects seems to be that of proposing outrageous plans, that have no way to be approved in their original format, and then scale them down to pacify the rest of us. Well, nobody is an idiot.

Economic drive is fine, but not at this price. This is not the legacy we choose to leave to our future generations. It is the legacy that those in power are choosing to shove down our throats; cementing our mouths and the little land we have left. These groups, be they successful or not in their battles, will not be erased. “Front Kontra l-Golf Kors” (2000-2004) and “Front Kontra l-Hilton” (1994-1997), both spearheaded by Moviment Graffitti, are two examples of a won and lost battle, respectively.

Someone, somewhere in time, tried to stop this madness. We hope that, looking back, we will also be able to proudly say that we tried – and succeeded – in making Marsaskala, and other localities, a better place to live in.