Below the surface: part two


How do you know what type of rock lies beneath the surface?  How do you know if there is clay, soft stone or very hard stone?  How do you know if the rock foundations are strong enough to support the weight of your building?

Everyone knows the story of the tower of Pisa.  Beautiful architecture built on less than solid foundations.  If the tower was built somewhere else and if its angular relation to the ground remained as its builders had intended, it would surely not have been as popular, but would you want a house whose floors are all uphill?  Would you drive on a bridge built on less than solid foundations?


Enter the geologists

Geologists study the layers of rock formations on which we thread every day.  They study the type of rock, its weaknesses and strengths.  Transport Malta asked for geologists’ help to determine how strong the rock foundations of Kappara site are. The studies commissioned are called geotechnical investigations.

A drilling rig drilled holes in the ground and extracted core samples.  The operator packed the samples in heavy duty plastic containers.  The containers had rows for each sample.  The operator marked each row with a white marker.  He wrote a number showing the order in which he extracted the samples and hence the depth of each.


The geologist, architect Christian Schembri, in this case, received the whole lot of samples in his lab in Ħandaq, Qormi.  A big number of plastic containers were stashed in his lab.  Each container contained five core rock samples.  Christian visually went through all the samples, rock by rock.  He noted when rocks changed colour, when the rock type changed and the faults he could register.  He used a geological hammer to start getting a feel of how strong each rock was.  He wrote it all down.


Then Christian moved on to more precise readings.  He put a sample into a cabinet; a cylindrical rock core on a sort of steel plate of almost the same diameter. He closed the reinforced glass door and moved to the console.  He pressed a few buttons and the number displayed started to increment.  A steel plate from top pressed against the rock and the bottom plate.  It exerted a tremendous weight on the stone.  A data logger, standing a few centimetres away, plotted a graph showing the pressure as it increased by the second.  Then pah, something gave.  The sound of a projectile whizzed by. Then something else gave. The whole rock cracked.


Christian did a series of these tests and plotted a whole report. By the end of it Christian sent a report to Kappara project’s engineers.  The engineers now know the foundations quite well and can  make the right choices when constructing the foundations for Kappara Project.

Kappara: Resurfacing in Msida


Maintenance Work in Triq il-Wied L-Imsida

Asphalting works will be carried out  in Triq il-Wied L-Imsida as from tonight  until Wednesday 11th May, between 20:00hrs and 06:00hrs. Work is related to the preparatory works for the Kappara Project.

During works, road will be closed to traffic. Traffic towards L-Imsida will be diverted onto Triq Mikiel Anton Vassalli. Traffic from Birkirkara to L-Imsida will proceed towards the slip road and onto Triq Reġjonali L-Imsida.

Drivers are advised to proceed with caution and to use alternative routes.

Any inconvenience is regretted.

Below the surface


Kappara contractor is conducting a series of geotechnical investigations to help engineers make the right choices when laying the foundations for the Kappara Project.

The machine seems like a converted war tank.  It has tracks instead of wheels, providential given the tough terrain. The tracks and engine on top have a crane-like arm affixed to the front, a derrick.

A drilling bit protrudes from the derrick into the ground below.  The bit turns. Cooling water pours out turning the area around the drilling into a small mud pool.  The operator pulls at a series of levers pushing the drill bit deeper and then stops the drilling.  His assistant gets another section of the drilling bit, about a metre long steel cylinder.  He screws it on top of the rest of the bit.  The machine starts turning the bit again, drilling deeper. The assistant adds more sections, drilling deeper.

The operator is satisfied. He reached the desired depth.  He pulls at a few levers and the machine turns the bit the other way round.  It brings the bit back up; the assistant removes section after section and puts them on an iron frame.  The final section emerges from the ground.  The assistant grips the metal cylinder with a heavy wrench.  He puts his weight on the wrench and pulls down.  The operator gets a huge hammer and delivers a few blows to help release the section. He empties the cylinder in a heavy duty plastic case. The case takes five core samples.  Five cores of earth that have not seen daylight in years, surely tens of years, probably thousands.

The operator puts the case in the back of the truck, returns to the machine and retracts the derrick.  He changes the angle of the derrick from vertical to horizontal so that it lies completely on top of the tracks.  Pulls more levers and the machine starts to move its heavy tracks, navigating the tough terrain towards the next location.  The next digging spot.  The next sample that will be sent to the lab for analysis.




Kappara: Works in Rue D\’Argens


Maintenance Work in Triq D’Argens Gżira

Maintenance work will be carried out  in Triq D’Argens tonight between 19:00hrs and 06:00hrs. Work is related to the preparatory works for the Kappara Project.

Road will not be closed to traffic but parking in Triq D’Argens will not be allowed.

Drivers are advised to proceed with caution and to use alternative routes.

Any inconvenience is regretted.


Vat refund: 2005 vehicles


A Once-Only grant for vehicles registered and licensed for personal use

The Government will be refunding  VAT paid on registration tax for vehicles registered in 2005.

As announced during the last Budget, Government the equivalent amount of VAT paid on the registration tax (less the one time grant payment in 2014 of either €110 (vehicles) or €55 (motorcycles) to all vehicle owners who were eligible for the scheme that was published during 2014) to vehicle owners who had a vehicle registered between the 1st January and 31st December 2005.

This payment will be issued in one full and final settlement by cheque, which shall be posted to the address indicated on the application form in the coming months. As was announced the same process will be adopted in the following years, until all payments for the eligible applicants up till the end of 2008 are settled.

Transport Malta will be notifying in writing the applicants who were eligible for the grant and who had registered a vehicle between the 1st January and 31st December 2005.

In order to apply for the grant, vehicle owners who receive the notification by Transport Malta must verify their personal details, sign and return the application form to Transport Malta in order to accept the conditions stipulated in the grant. The application form must be duly filled in, signed and sent by post or submitted in person by not later than the 29th July 2016 to one of the following addresses below:

Grant Scheme
Transport Malta
A3 Towers,
Arcade Street

Grant Scheme
Ministry for Gozo
Licence Office
Saint Francis Square


Documents required with the Application Form:

a) No additional documentation is required to be submitted if a person is submitting his/her own application;

b) In the case of a deceased person, the heir should together with the application form fill in his/her personal details and include a declaration made by a notary public, confirming that he/she is the  eligible person to apply for the Scheme.

Furthermore, vehicle owners who had registered a vehicle for private use between 1st May 2004 and 31st December 2005 and are eligible for the scheme but had not applied for the grant during 2014 or 2015, may also submit an application form (which may be obtained from Transport Malta) until the 29th July 2016.

For further information or assistance vehicle owners may call either on Free Phone 8007 2373 from Monday to Friday between 08.00 and 15.00 or send an email to the following address:

What is a tidal lane?

Transport Malta installed a tidal lane system in Sir Paul Boffa Avenue in Paola and is currently testing it.  

 The tidal lane is a system that changes the direction of traffic in one lane to maximise the capacity of the road.  The tidal lane in Paola is a first for Malta.

Sir Paul Boffa Avenue is a four-lane road. Such a road is usually split into two carriageways, two lanes northbound and two southbound.  With the tidal lane, one lane allows traffic from one direction during the morning and from the other throughout the evening.  Retractable bollards will control the direction of the lane from both sides.  A set of bollards will be lowered and another raised guiding vehicles to access the lane from one direction or the other.  


 Transport Malta implemented a number of measures to make the transition safe.  Fixed bollards delineate the transitional lane so vehicles cannot veer off in the wrong direction.  Traffic lights have been installed to stop cars from accidentally going over raising bollards.  The bollards will only be raised after officials visually ascertain no cars are approaching.

 Transport Malta will change the lane direction at 21:00 to have three lanes going towards Valletta during the following morning.  The lane direction will change again at 14:00 to have two lanes towards Valletta and two towards Paola when most people return home from work.  The tidal lane will maximise the efficiency of the road within the existing capacity. 

 Transport Malta asks drivers to follow signs and drive with caution especially during these first days of a new system for Malta.

Maritime Industry fighting climate change


Transport Malta welcomes important new global mandatory requirements for ships to mitigate climate change

The Marine Environment Protection Committee of the International Maritime Organisation at its 69th session held last week in London approved new global mandatory requirements for ships to record and report fuel consumption. The agreement was reached on Friday when World Earth Day was being celebrated and the day the Paris agreement on climate change was being signed by world leaders in New York, including Malta’s Prime Minister.

Transport Malta, as the regulator of maritime affairs in Malta welcomed the new data collection requirements hailed internationally as a significant contribution to the ongoing work by the international community to mitigate climate change.  This was also welcomed by the Malta International Shipowners Association and the international shipping community.

IMO member States also agreed to continue at the next MEPC session in November with their work to further address greenhouse gas emissions from ships. The mandatory data collection system is intended to be the first in a three-step process in which analysis of the data collected would provide the basis for an objective, transparent and inclusive policy debate on climate change mitigation from shipping. 

Malta, as befitting a leading maritime nation, is an active participant in the work of IMO and actively took part in a wide ranging discussion leading to the approval of a new mandatory data collection system. Malta was represented at the IMO meeting by senior officials of the Merchant Shipping Directorate within Transport Malta together with the Permanent Representation of Malta to IMO and support from industry.

The new agreement is yet another clear and positive signal about the firm commitment of the shipping industry to climate change mitigation. To date, IMO is the only Organisation to have adopted energy-efficiency measures that are legally binding across an entire global industry. Mandatory energy efficiency standards for new ships, and mandatory operational measures to reduce emissions from existing ships, entered into force in 2013. Thanks to those new measures, by 2025 all new ships built will be 30% more energy efficient than those built in 2013. 

IMO Secretary General Mr Kitack Lim welcomed the approval of the amendments and said “The work in the MEPC this week shows IMO’s strong commitment, as the global regulator of the shipping industry, to continue its work to address GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions from ships engaged in international trade. IMO has a major role to play in ensuring that the positive momentum towards climate change mitigation is translated into tangible and lasting improvements in people’s lives.\”

Transport Malta reaffirmed its firm commitment to continue working together with its international and European partners, through the IMO, to further enhance the energy efficiency of the international shipping sector through a harmonised global regime. Transport Malta welcomes the support of the Malta International Shipowners Association in this direction.