Valletta V18 – Polishing a faded jewel

Source: Mr George M. Mangion¸ PKF Malta

As published on The Malta Today on Wednesday 5th February 2013

The race for the best ideas on how to regenerate the inner harbour area and to improve Valetta environs is being championed by the Hon Chris Cardona who took over the task which was started under the previous administration.

The projects are all listed in the Grand Harbour roadmap and one recalls that the now retired  Investment Minister Austin Gatt was the author of this ambitious plan. He is after all¸ a resident of ‘the City’ and knows best on how to augment its faded values. Furthermore ¸ being the pet idea of Dr Gatt has the advantage of being the same minister  who gave birth to Smart City and the much discussed Arriva “mass transportation “ solution( now disbanded as a insolvent company and sold for a song ) This time the Valletta project is more ambitious as it incorporates the gaol of making Malta a maritime hub.

To start with¸ there is a farsighted plot for the removal of all heavy industrial activity from the Senglea side of French creek¸ where the current quay will be upgraded and converted into a new cruise liner terminal. The Three Cities are also bound to get a major boost from cruise liner tourism¸ which as confirmed by NSO is growing year after year. Will growth be sufficient to justify the expense to expand the old traditional “Dghajsa “service from and to the city ? This philosophy flows naturally to other ideas connected with the improvement of access and mobility of visitors to the zone. Regrettably Mepa turned down the cable car application which was a splendid piece of engineering structure comprising a cable car project financed by the Viset Consortium¸ connecting the Pinto Sea Port to Valletta.

This is similar to the successful cable car connection linking thousands of visitors to Sonoma Island to the Singapore mainland. Perhaps it needed some modification to blend with the surroundings¸ yet it is more than certain that visitors who have seen the massive cable transportation project in action in Singapore can fully agree to the adoption of the cable car project in Valletta .It is a pity politicians refrained from endorsing it as it would have vastly improved accessibility in¸ to and out of the City. Like many projects included in the ‘Connections’ idea proposed by the ingenious Anglu Xuereb ¸with his Cable Car Proposal an innovative¸ somewhat provocative¸ yet  functional¸ considering the serious mobility problems pertaining to Valletta.

Additionally¸ the Regeneration project (sadly in abeyance) could include the restoration and rehabilitation of buildings¸ the upgrading of public areas¸ and possibly the demolition and redevelopment of specific buildings. Modern urban design is a delicate process trying to provide the  free-flow and permeability of the city and public spaces so why do we not start seriously redesigning the approaches to the old City (with apologies to the redesigned hole in the wall Gate by the world renowned architect signor Piano).

This is a long term plan such as that original plan in 1996 t