Loving Gozo from its past to its present – By Lino DeBono
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“Those people born at the end of the Second World War are very fortunate, as they, as well as I, have lived through all the exciting phases of Maltese history. Some tend to say that our generation came too late, I say the opposite.
How lucky my generation were to live and participate in our local history, from poverty and colonialism to wealth and becoming our own masters.
From being cut off from the rest of the whole wide world, to Skype and contacting loved ones instantly in every corner of the world. From having only 217 telephone lines in 1971 to mobiles and internet permitting instant contact all over the world.
From getting a weekly bath in a tub to modern complete baths or showers with heated water. From having to dump the toilet waste in the backyard, to now having revolving toilets doing their own flushing and cleaning.
From ink wells in schools to computers and technology, providing the opportunity to have a foreign educational courses via the internet, etc.
From paupers and being governed by others through all of our historical past under each and every European Colonialist, to turning the tide to become our own masters. Becoming a leading shining light in the European Union and also worldwide, such as the proposal of having the oceans as a world heritage belonging to all the worlds citizens.
From being without electricity – water – drainage – communications – newspapers and letters for days on end in Gozo due to rough weather. Gozitan workers in Malta having to remain in Malta without monies, food and clothing due to ferries not working a 24-hour service.
I certainly remember the tragedy in 1948, when I was just 5-years old, when the “Luzzu” sank at Hondoq Ir-Rummien. What hardships the Gozitans had to pass through, I myself had to be transported by boat to the ferry to climb up a rope ladder so as to be able to get to Malta.
The issue of a bridge was first raised by a certain Vella Gaffiero, who exhibited a model of a bridge in the Banca Giuratale and later in the Duke of Edinburgh Hotel for several years in the late fifties and early sixties.
Gozitans were continuously talking about this and several also invested huge sums of monies towards such a bridge, the idea of such connectivity has therefore been ongoing for many decades.
I do remember the long years of trouble and strong opposition I had as the Chairman of the Gozo Channel in convincing the other Board Directors to agree with my proposition to have a trial for a 24-hour service.
When it was finally introduced during the July Trade Fair period it was such a success that everyone acknowledged that this service should continue. But it had taken me years to convince the other Board Members including those representing the Government.
Now we Gozitans are going through another very important phase of improving our connectivity with the mainland. The issue of a bridge was put to the general public by both political parties in their manifestos.
The general public voted for this venture, now some are protesting about this, but the people have already voted for it.
Objectors are mainly stating three points for their objections, which are as follows:
That Gozo will be inundated by vehicles crossing over.
That Gozo will be ruined by buildings as is happening in Malta
That Gozo will lose its tranquillity.
My proposals to the authorities are:
The Prime Minister has put forward a sensible suggestion that free public transport will be provided to one and all from Gozo to Malta. This makes sense and will eliminate all the objections to extra vehicular traffic.
Regarding building permits, the Government can enact a law that no high buildings will be permitted in Gozo and all new building will have to be in accordance with those of the village core.
In addition a new P.A.P.B. Authority made up of Gozitans will be created for the issue of permits. In Xlendi and Marsalforn high building permits have already been issued thus ruining the two main seaside’s resorts that we have. Shame on all who issued these permits and also the Government which made these permits possible.
If the above suggestions are implemented, then Gozo will still remain in these respects, as is and thus resolve the issue of losing its tranquillity.
I believe that for each and every acute problem there is a solution, solutions that can only be implemented by the Government.
Citizens of a certain age such as I am, having passed through our historical past and present, have faith that if proposals are put forward with good and sincere intent, they will be discussed and evaluated thoroughly.
I do sincerely hope that my suggestions above will be evaluated and discussed.”
Photograph by Alain Salvary