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GSD and Govt clash on transport measures

Eyleen Gomez

The GSD and Gibraltar Government are embroiled in a dispute over the recent traffic initiatives, with both sides labelling the other “hypocritical”.

The GSD yesterday hit out at the Government’s traffic approach, calling for the measures to be revoked and calling it “inconsistent” and “haphazard”.

But the Government hit back, stating the GSD was “stuck in the stone age” and adding their statement “smacks of complete political hypocrisy”.

In a press statement issued yesterday, the GSD said the Government’s approach is “failing abysmally” and the measures should be revoked with a properly planned strategy presented for public consultation.
The GSD had pointed out that there is “nothing green” about the government’s plans, which they claim have been “entirely disingenuous.”

The party said the government has pursued road closures without proper planning, while at the same time revenue raising via parking charges, creating more fee-paying blue zones and prosing pollution tax all under the banner of ‘Green Gibraltar’.

“This is all happening without the slightest consideration for the public at large or the reality of how we as people move about our city,” the party said.

In response, the Government said the GSD was doing “nothing more than paying lip-service to the environment and adopting a populist approach to traffic and transport with complete disregard for the wider picture.”

“The GSD are the last ones who can preach on traffic matters with any degree of credibility after the mess they made during their time in office,” the government said in a statement.

“They also seem to have very short and selective memory. It was precisely during their time in Government that certain parking charges were introduced and increased, that plans for a residential parking scheme were hatched, that roads were closed and that precious little was done to improve the plight of the long suffering motorist.”

The GSD had said the Minister for Transport is “presiding over the most significant mismanagement of traffic and transport in living memory”, and the major changes are being carried out with “hardly any planning or public notice”, which is “understandably causing a significant public backlash.”

In response the Government said they have carried out the “most extensive, detailed and comprehensive consultation on traffic and transport matters in living memory.”

“This took over five years and was the subject of frequent criticism from the Opposition for taking too long,” the government said.

“They cannot have it both ways – if the Government consults widely then this is going to take time.”

Shadow Minister for Transport Elliott Phillips called the Government’s green policy “hypocritical”, adding that the public transport system needs “enhancement.”

“There is nothing green about the Government's policy on road closures and any attempt to sugar coat this is tantamount to insulting the intelligence of the people of Gibraltar,” Mr Phillips said.

“Gibraltar has over 40,000 registered vehicles, an ageing and ill-equipped road infrastructure, thousands of cars flowing through our bottlenecked frontier and a serious lack of real cycling lanes and safe alternatives whilst parking bays continue to be occupied by commercial interests.”

“The public transport system needs enhancement if it is to be an alternative to car use for some people.”

“To demonstrate the sheer hypocrisy of raising the green banner Europort Avenue closure has seen large trucks spewing fumes into the air whilst construction is be completed and our green areas continue to be watered by bowsers which run on diesel.”

“In addition and although the Government claims it wishes to reduce the use of cars it continues to be widely encouraging the population to purchase new vehicles under its 0% import duty incentive.”

“On Line Wall Road, traffic is simply being redirected to Queensway with the emergency re-opening of Line Wall Road over two days resulting from an accident on Waterport Road being testament to how little planning has gone into this.”

“A Government truly committed to a Greener Gibraltar would plan better and tell the people that achieving the aim of green Gibraltar will take time and will require significant investment in infrastructure, better alternatives to driving particularly for the elderly, those with disabilities and low income families and over time encourage a change in the collective chip.”

“These need to be in place first. Otherwise all that is happening is roads are being closed and fees hiked up with no alternatives and bad planning.”

The Government replied that the Sustainable Traffic and Transport Plan recommended a reduction in traffic flow along Line Wall Road as well as a number of other improvements.

The Government added that some of those recommendations are already in place, others are in the pipeline and that the three-day-a-week closure of Line Wall Road was a pilot project “which would provide further data and information going forward.”

“It is clear that GSD policy on traffic is stuck in the stone age,” the Minister for Business, Tourism and Transport Vijay Daryanani said.

“On the one hand they support the declaration of a Climate Emergency in the Gibraltar Parliament, but when they are called upon to put their money where their mouth is and back concrete ideas their response has been found to be sadly wanting.”

“They cannot run with the hares and hunt with the hounds – either they support radical measures to protect the environment or they are against such action.”

“It is sadly very clear after Mr Phillip’s latest outburst that GSD environmental policy is in tatters. They have shown they don't care about the environment. They only care to stir things up against the government, whatever the cost to Gibraltar.”