On the eve of a new scholastic year, the Government is taking several measures to ease the difficulties of the seasonal increase in road users during the morning and afternoon peaks.
As thousands of students return to the classroom after the summer holidays, the Ministry for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects is implementing a number of infrastructural and operational initiatives to reduce the impact of the resulting increase in road users.
On Monday, Transport Malta will be increasing the number of enforcement officials stationed at critical nodes connecting different parts of the country’s road network, to guide road users and provide immediate assistance in case of difficulty. The Ministry and Transport Malta are also in constant contact with the Ministry for Education, the Police and LESA to coordinate school transport and road network operations for enhanced efficiency.
Transport Malta will also be monitoring roads from its control centre and an emergency number – 8007 3399 – has been set up to provide swift roadside assistance to drivers in difficulty, with tow trucks on standby in different areas. This free service aims to reduce the impact of traffic congestion caused by accidents and other difficulties.
To further reduce obstacles, Local Councils have been guided not to issue permits for road closures, even partially, during peak hours, between 7.00am and 9am. Work carried out on roads – such as the irrigation of landscaped areas along the roads – is also not permitted during these hours.
Transport Malta has also launched an educational campaign with a series of videos, posters and radio messages, which aims to increase road safety awareness, improve driver behaviour on the road and help avoid further congestion. The first video in this campaign addresses bumper to bumper accidents. A minor accident in the middle of the road can cause long queues and undue stress for fellow drivers. The video clearly shows the procedure drivers have to perform in such a situation, which starts with the removal of the cars to an open space where drivers can then fill in the form without obstructing other vehicles. Blocking the road is an offence, and enforcement officials can hand out a fine of €100. Transport Malta has also produced radio adverts and digital posters to help drivers become aware of the correct procedure if they are involved in a bumper to bumper accident or if they require emergency towing.
In addition, Transport Malta is working closely with the app and Facebook page Maltese Roads Traffic Updates. Traffic control centre officials will be monitoring reports that come through the app and dispatch officers on site when possible. Officials will mark the location of road works or possible obstructions on the map to help drivers prepare their journey. Officials will also send general notifications to app users in case of a major accident or major diversion. We remind drivers to use the app only for journey planning and only when the engine is switched off unless passengers are the ones using it.
The Authority has also invested heavily in its enforcement section, conceiving and forming a rapid intervention team. Officers on motorbikes are able to reach areas where an accident has occurred, despite the traffic. The officers are equipped with front to rear formulas, to help clear the road faster. They can also divert traffic through a prior junction whenever possible.
Besides these operational measures, the Ministry is also working to introduce several short, medium and long-term investments to upgrade the quality of the road network, increase road safety and reduce the inconveniences of traffic on road users, residents and the environment. Over 25 projects to upgrade critical junctions and rebuild roads were launched this summer. Other investments, including the rebuilding of Triq Bormla (Taċ-Ċawsli) at Żabbar, the upgrading of the two Qormi roundabouts, the widening of Buqana Road, between Rabat and Mosta and the upgrading of the Marsa-Ħamrun Bypass are being planned for implementation in the coming months and in 2018.
The Government is also committed in reducing our dependency on private cars by encouraging increased use of alternative modes of transport, including public transport. The planning and studies for the introduction of a new rapid mass transport system is in progress as well.
While wishing a positive scholastic year to all students, the Ministry reminds all road users to use our roads responsibly and to consider using alternative modes of transport where possible.