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‘Letting go of cars’ comes hard in Gib, Balban says

Pic by Johnny Bugeja

Gibraltar seems to have a problem “letting go of cars,” the Minister for Transport, Paul Balban told Parliament, adding that this is something that needs to be tackled eventually.

Mr Balban addressed the continued need for parking provision on Gibraltar’s roads despite all new estates offering parking, and said there are “more and more cars and vans taking up space further away from people’s homes.”

Mr Balban was speaking as the Minister for Transport, a portfolio he has been handed again after serving as Minister for Health at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said the environment lay at the heart of the Government’s initiatives aimed at reducing traffic, including the closures of Chatham, Europort Avenue and Line Wall Road.

“There was a lot of good in the intention behind the closures of these roads,” Mr Balban said.

“Chatham and Europort were quite inconsequential to traffic flow but Line Wall Road closure came under fierce attack.”

“This is the normal reaction to change especially when it affects our beloved cars.”

He said this closure provided an opportunity to gather data and see at face value what effect it would bring to local traffic, adding that one valuable lesson learnt was that “change had to happen slowly.”

“We were not ready for it at the time, just like we were not ready for the closure of Main Street to traffic when that happened in its day,” Mr Balban said.

“But our dependence on our cars is something we will need to come to terms with eventually, but once again, alas we may have to leave that one for our children to sort out.”

“Brave leaders get lambasted but those who are not brave will never break boundaries and create a better place for us all to live.”

Excess traffic on Gibraltar’s roads not only has an effect on the environment, but on the health of people who could otherwise walk or cycle to get to their intended destination, he said.

He urged people to support Government initiatives rather than “criticising them without giving them time”, while he will continue to make inroads into a “better, greener Gibraltar.”

“We want a green Gibraltar, we voted for a green Gibraltar but many of us don’t want the inconvenience of a green Gibraltar, that’s the reality,” Mr Balban said.

“That is such a shame, our small size could make us one of the most attractive small cities in the world, our health would improve, indeed our life expectancy too.”

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