Malta
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Msida roadworks deadline missed due to ‘unexpected rain’

Promises to finally complete chaotic works on a prominent Msida road by last week have fallen through due to weather conditions, according to the corporation managing the delay-ridden project.

“While the initial plan was to have the roadworks completed by September 2, the unexpected rain last Thursday disrupted this progress,” the Water Services Corporation said.

As a result, road resurfacing is still going on in Ix-Xatt Ta’ Xbiex, over a year after works started on the project that has been beset with delays to the detriment of motorists, business owners and residents.

No new target date for completion has been set and further delays can be expected as the WSC said asphalting was dependent on the weather.

Initially, it had said the €930,000 project would be completed by this April but, four months later, the road had remained reduced to one lane, causing daily traffic congestion.

Frustrated motorists and business owners in the uprooted area were sceptical about the latest September 2 deadline, seeing no end in sight after having suffered long tailbacks and being engulfed in dust clouds since the project kicked off in July 2022.

Incredulous readers were not holding their breath. They had mocked the promised deadline and any ensuing inauguration, pointing to “silly excuses” and questioning who would shoulder responsibility for the “shameful” situation.

“I say ‘finally’ when it is actually ready,” one reader had commented. “Until then, I will take their claim it will be ready by the ‘end of the month’ (August) with a pinch of salt.”

Ix-Xatt Ta’ Xbiex has been in a poor state since July 2022, although people from the area claim the disarray dates back to October 2021.

Works on the main Msida road did not just mean furious motorists were forced to navigate a sea of potholes and get stuck in a build-up of traffic.

The contractor was actively working on asphalting one half of the road – specifically the section adjacent to the businesses. For the remaining half, next to the promenade, this depended on the weather forecast- Water Services Corporation spokesman

Disgruntled shop and restaurant owners along the road have also borne the brunt, dealing with copious amounts of dust for over a year and claiming business was down in the area.

Last month, the WSC was “pleased to inform” that the project was “proceeding as planned”, pinning down a date for the final resurfacing of the stretch of road. But it has hit another stumbling block. Explaining the new delays, a WSC spokesman said the contractor was actively working on asphalting one half of the road – “specifically the section adjacent to the businesses”.

For the remaining half, next to the promenade, this depended on the weather forecast, he said.

“If the rain persists as predicted for most of this week, the contractor may need to hold off on that portion to ensure the quality and safety of the work,” he said, adding that the project would resume once the weather was favourable.

Last May, the WSC said resurfacing of the bumpy road could not start due to a delay in the placing of a stormwater culvert by the Public Works Department.

The idea was to avoid disrupting newly laid asphalt in the future and the WSC had assured, back then, that the stormwater system was to be installed a week later.

The regeneration of the Msida pedestrian promenade, to the tune of over €2 million, had done little to minimise the disruption of the roadworks, with commuters describing driving there as a “disaster” and dangerous.

The promenade project had also caused traffic headaches and inconvenience, which, coupled with these roadworks, meant the ordeal had been going on for almost two years, one reader claimed.