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TG ‘discouraged’ by Govt’s approach to greener roads

Eyleen Gomez

Together Gibraltar has said it is “discouraged” by the way the Gibraltar Government has implemented the Line Wall Road restrictions having previously supported the proposals.

In a statement the party highlighted the Government’s “lack of planning and foresight” and said plans had been “improvised” and implemented without provision for alternative modes of transport.

TG had previously voiced its support for the pilot project which came into effect on Monday June 1, and drew parallels between this plan and the one presented by Together Gibraltar in its 2019 manifesto.

The party said: “Though concerned by the lack of planning and foresight, we acknowledged the Chief Minister’s claim that the pandemic had caused a profound cultural shift that provided an ideal opening to implement this change effectively.”

“Unfortunately, we find ourselves with a situation in which this cultural shift has been rapidly reversed, with traffic returning to our roads in great numbers, and cars using Line Wall road with little to no restrictions.”

“This presents the public with the worst of both worlds: An improvised plan with no adequate transport alternatives, plus the reinstatement of the old “driver entitlement" culture which fills our roads with unnecessary traffic.”

In a meeting with Minister for Transport and Traffic Vijay Daryanani last week, Marlene Hassan Nahon and Neil Samtani expressed the opinion that the only way of having a sustainable transport plan was through the reduction of congestion, not by moving those same vehicles currently on the road - and their emissions - to another thoroughfare.

Mr Daryanani expressed his commitment to ensure that this principle formed part of his transport plan.

According to the party, residents have expressed concern that permits have not been issued as of yet and TG said it was conscious that there is no way for measures already implemented to be enforced.

“Single-use visitor permits have been proposed, but not implemented, leading to anyone being able to use this road.”

It added that enforcement of traffic offences should not be cast by the Government as being ‘draconian’.

“This issue requires honest and resolute leadership, not populism. We are not only seeing ‘driver entitlement' culture at play here, but also the culture of clientelist Governance that panders to every segment of the electorate, no matter how fringe or how contrary to the common good.”

“This paradigm shift requires courage and the commitment to do what is right and necessary - and a change to a truly green transport infrastructure in Gibraltar is long overdue.”

This “lack of principle" is also visible in the blanket reduction of import duty to cars without incorporating any incentives for electric and hybrid cars, a policy that flies in the face of the Government’s environmental rhetoric, TG said.

“Changes such as these are very demanding of societies, forcing upon them cultural shifts they are often not ready for, and must be delivered in an exemplary fashion.”

“The hypocrisy of signalling an increase in car sales, while at the same time attempting to reduce road congestion and pollution, does not help persuade the community to embrace these changes.”

TG member Neil Samtani said: “We urge Government to reinforce their stance on Line Wall Road, and prevent the measures becoming diluted to the point where there is little benefit to having introduced them.”

“We also call on the Minister to look at this effort not in isolation, but as part of a wider vision to enhance Gibraltar’s transport network, with a focus on making Gibraltar a cleaner, more walkable and bike-friendly nation by offering viable alternatives for local journeys to taking your car.”

“To dissuade unnecessary local journeys for permit holders from being made on Line Wall Road, we suggest that the speed limit on this road be reduced to 20km/h and re-designating the road to be a ‘mixed use’ zone, which has been demonstrated in other countries to increase driver awareness and reduce average speed.”

“Average speed cameras could assist in monitoring the adherence to such measures.”