Marsaxlokk has been in the news for all the wrong reasons lately, much to the dismay of those who live there. The whole dispute has become another finger-pointing exercise with the campers insisting that the local council has failed the residents, and that they are not responsible for the litter.
Josanne Cassar spoke to a resident to get his views (for professional reasons he wishes to remain anonymous).
Do you think that the ugly incident between the campers and the protesters was blown out of proportion?
“Unfortunately this hasn’t been the best of adverts for Marsaxlokk and there has been a lot of fuss over this issue. However, it is well known that in this country, no change takes place unless something extraordinary happens. The authorities that be surely would not have budged had it not been for this unfortunate incident.”
How much of a nuisance were the campers…were they really leaving rubbish behind, as stated?
“A few days before the brawl, I looked at the Magħluq from across the bay and I noticed that I could not see the sand due to the density of the camps. It looked like a Roma settlement, a gypsy encampment. One has to take note of the fact that the Marsaxlokk local council had previously cleared the area of boats and trailer carts that had been left there to rust over the years. However, when I took a closer look at il-Magħluq, I observed that the way to the sea was obstructed by the camps and their owners’ belongings. And I was reluctant to leave my belongings on the shore while taking a dip, as the campers looked rather suspicious.
One has to admit that il-Magħluq is not one of the most well-kept areas in Marsaxlokk. However, since campers set up shop, the area has been riddled with garbage that was not to be found there previously, such as used tissue paper, domestic waste, nappies etc. I am sure that they did not make use of public sanitary facilities, since they were faced with choosing between a latrine which is a couple of hundred metres away and the sea at their own doorstep.”
Do you think M’xlokk should have an area which is a designated camping site with proper facilities and a nominal fee for anyone who wants to set up camp?
“We have to be practical and not sway from an extreme position to another, from total prohibition of camping to total condoning. In truth and reality, our seashore is too small for a camping site, however, one could set up such facilities in Delimara which is quite a big area and the sea is close by. Should the authorities earmark an area in Delimara to be set up as a designated area for camps and caravans, with adequate facilities, naturally at a fee, I think this would be a fair deal for everyone.”
The campers are blaming the local council for the neglectful state of the area – do you agree?
As explained earlier, Il-Magħluq area is not maintained in the best possible way. After all, it is an area which is used on a daily basis due the numerous berths and is quite exposed to the elements, especially strong winds and sea in winter. The local council had cleared the area of boats and carts, but I don’t think the council it the money to embellish the area. However, I believe that the council is doing its utmost to take care of our village, for the benefit of all Xlukkajri and also of the thousands of foreign and local tourists who visit us throughout the year. Suffice it to say that Marsaxlokk is popular due to its open air market and the over 25 restaurants which line its seafront.”
Do you think that by evicting the campers from this area they are simply going to go somewhere else – in other words, has the problem simply been shifted to another village?
“In all probability this is what is going to take place, however, it has emerged in the news that the authorities also took action in the Qajjenza area and other parts in Birzebbuga. I would presume that residents in various localities will put pressure on their local councils and the government so as to regularise the position of campers so that they would not simply squat. This would hopefully open the way for discussions of opening new camping areas aroundMaltaand Gozo.”
Is it possible, in your opinion, for Malta to solve the illegal camping/boathouses problem? Why/why not?
“I believe that everything can be solved, as long as the biggest hurdle is overcome, that is goodwill from all those involved. This is because we Maltese tend to look at the proverbial speck of sawdust in our neighbour’s eye than paying attention to the plank in our own eye.
I would like to ask the authorities who govern this blessed country, why do you keep regularising by reacting to extraordinary circumstances, such as the brawl at il-Magħluq or some tragedy, rather than taking the proper measures at the very start?”