Photo by Marc Pether-Longman
As much as I am, as a Gozitan, against the permanent link (bridge/tunnel) between Malta and Gozo (there, I’m making it clear in my first sentence), I did not bother taking any notice about last year’s hype on the issue since I assumed it was the usual pre-electoral gimmick. And as much as I am known to be contradictorily opinionated on issues that affect Gozo or its population, I decided not to comment on the matter since I (wrongly) assumed that it would die down.
It did not and apparently will never.
It seems like someone felt victimised yet again since a new Facebook page appeared on my newsfeed this evening, conveniently titled Gozo Permanent Link. It does not bother me that some people are strongly in favour of the permanent link between Malta on Gozo. On the contrary, I believe that it is good to balance arguments out. However, there is nothing I believe in as strongly as I am against the close-minded Gozitan mentality that we have when dealing with such issues.
It is really a hassle to cross over every day for university or for work, there is no doubt about that. I have done it myself. I have crossed over daily for the past 6 Summers, and I have crossed over daily during my first year at university. I do not complain, and this is not a matter of just looking on the bright side of things. It’s mostly about taking the whole issue into consideration and choosing not to come up with petty arguments.
Since a post on the page asks at what time I have to wake up to get the ferry and to get to work or University on time, I’ll answer the question. Like the majority of Gozitan students, I rent an apartment close to University. This means that I can get out of bed only 15 minutes before a lecture. I think that very few non-Gozitans can say that getting up 15 minutes before a lecture is enough. I think most of them wake up at the same time as we do for a ferry because of early morning traffic or just for parking, and we all know what the parking situation at the University of Malta is like.
Moving on to the other issue – Have you ever missed a ferry because of this?! Headache much?! (and a picture of cars queueing for the ferry). Yes I did miss ferries because of a queue, but this usually happens because I fail to plan beforehand. We all know when to expect ferry queues – long weekends, Carnival, Santa Marija weekend and Fridays. Most of us can afford to leave a little bit earlier (and anyway, what makes you think that we will not be queuing for a bridge or tunnel?). And if you’re stuck in a queue, you’re obviously never the only one stuck in it or it would not be a queue. I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but queues are everywhere, and people are not only queuing for the Gozo Channel (and you should be glad they aren’t). As you queue for your ferry, people are stuck in traffic jams all over Malta, all over Europe, and all over the world.
And my favourite; Rough sea?! Only 1 option… Gozo Channel ferry! Let’s say that this is a real issue, but let’s also add that the Gozo Channel only suspends its service a couple of times a year. This usually happens during terrible weather which would have been usually been forecasted a week before, which means that you’d have had enough time to sort out your ‘only 1 option’ before victimising yourself.
The one positive thing about this page is that we are being asked to share our views. However, the negative thing is that we are being asked to share our views with people who are worried about queues, rough seas, waking up early and going back home in the dark (!!), rather than about how viable such a link would be. We are ready to put the environmental sustainability of our island at risk by undertaking such a project for our own comfort and because we believe that such a link would miraculously facilitate our lives.
We fail to realise that a permanent link will never shorten the distance between Malta and Gozo, and the belief that a link will also encourage more tourists to visit Gozo is, in my opinion, one of the weakest arguments. The majority of those working in the touristic sector would claim that the best thing about promoting Gozo is its isolation, which makes me wonder how many of us have actually bothered to think about how a link would affect the island and its population as a whole.
It is rather distressing that those against the link are constantly accused of not understanding the Gozitan situation. We mistakenly assume that the Gozitan situation can be understood by making non-Gozitans pity us and by coaxing them into believing in the necessity of a permanent link. The need is not crucial at all, and I find it rather sad that we are so eager to stress on the matter in such a manner instead of trying to formulate an opinion in a more open manner that would allow us to finally start seeing beyond the end of our noses.