Saturday, 10 July 2010

Rampant abusive land seizures must be terminated - NGOs

Rampant abusive land seizures must be terminated, four environmental non-government organizations said in a statement.

They referred to the proposed White Rocks project saying that, as many had pointed out, the public land was being offered to the developers was worth millions of euros.

Moreover, the processing of the project so far has been opaque.

The organisations said it was in this context that the Armier squatters’ situation had to be judged.

“Their ferocity in bargaining, their electoral arm-twisting, and their instant initiative in organising themselves is better understood when the millions of real estate value at stake on this public land is revealed.

“The Armier tract of land is thought to be much larger in size than that of the White Rocks project, and is also seafront public real estate. Worth millions of euros, it is about to be written off for a pittance due to political blackmail.”

Rambers’ Association, Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar, Friends of the Earth and Nature Trust said that the affront to the law-abiding public should not be underestimated.

In addition to the illegal shacks, caravaners were now insolently demanding alternative sites in locations convenient to them in order to move off the land they illegally occupy.

“It beggars belief that the leaders of Malta’s main political parties should pander to land grabbers by offering them property that rightfully belongs to the nation. Such an agreement would legitimise these squatters’ claim to the value of the land they have squatted on. This property is already being speculated and will continue to be bartered for clean and legal real estate.”

The NGOs referred to the squatters’ claims that they have paid €93,000 in expenses, which works out to €4,650 per year for a minimum of 20 years of illegal possession. Divided between some 800 illegal households, this was less than €5.81 per year, the NGOs said.

“If that is not theft, we don’t know what is. Not only have the squatters had it obscenely good enough for far too long but they have made outrageous claims also for the future.”

The NGOs said that the agreement signed with the Nationalist government on the eve of the 2003 election, would extend the existing 67,000 square metres to around 231,000 square metres or 230 tumuli of public land which amounts to no less than 0.08 per cent of Malta’s land surface, against an annual rent of €350,000. The pledge was renewed by the leader of the Nationalist Party just before the 2008 elections, by committing himself to consult with Mepa on the pending applications.

Presented in 2004, the applications submitted by Armier Developments, the squatters’ company, proposes the development of 1,589 rooms, five playing fields and a bowls pitch, a mini market, three restaurants, a two-storey garage, three community centres and a clinic in an area spanning Ramlet il-Qortin, Ta’ Macca u l-Armier, the Barriera tal-Ahrax quarry, Little Armier and the Torri l-Abjad zone.

The NGOs said that the Mepa chairman had now claimed that part of the development proposed was unacceptable because of environmental, agricultural and land ownership issues.

However, no refusal of the squatters’ basic claims was forthcoming from either political party in Parliament or Mepa.

The NGOs said their position was crystal clear.

“Rampant abusive land seizures, such as that along the Valletta harbour, Gnejna, San Tumas, Ghadira, all of Armier and in Gozeo such as in Dwejra and ix-Xatt l-Ahmar, must be terminated.

“Turning over such a large expanse of countryside for building, in addition to that lost in the rationalisation plans, encourages further abuse, and makes a mockery of the government’s promise of ODZ is ODZ.

“The abuse of partisan politics, the clear source of these illegalities, is corroding the public’s faith in Maltese politicians’ ability to embrace the 21st century and rise above vote-catching tactics to build a political career built on sound ideology and practice,” they said.

R Caruana(1 day, 11 hours ago)
Fully agree with the NGO's but i wont waste my vote... this time round, will give a chance to democracy by voting the Green Party. ...yes, a chance to democracy, as our parlament is far from democratic!
N. Bonello(1 day, 21 hours ago)
Agree fully with the NGO's !

But I think the outcome will go something like this. The illegal squatters WILL MOVE - but they will be give good/convenient land, all services provided and proper title to the land for a pittance (and a vote).

Who will pay for this ME ! - who cant even afford to go on holiday to Gozo.

Who said crime doesn't pay.

And ALL these politicians expect me to vote for them. What are they doing for me, what have they done to this country.

D.Bonello(1 day, 12 hours ago)
Well said my friend.That's what i did last general elections,DID"NT VOTE. They stole our votes in the EU referendum. From indipendent they turned us into 2nd class citizens in our own country. We were promised a heaven, and look at what we are now, a public convinience. The politicians really dont deserve our votes. Once a die hard PN supporter, now politics for me is far more than HISTORY.
g.portelli(2 days ago)
@ L.Farrugia

So that empowers the present administration to keep employing the same policy, is that what you are implying ??
James A. Tyrrell(2 days, 3 hours ago)
You know as soon as I read this press release I knew that someone would jump in and accuse the NGO's of taking political sides. Why is it that in Malta when someone expresses an opinion it can't be taken in the context in which it is given but has to be reduced to a political argument?

Looking at it from outside so to speak, that is someone who doesn't care about politics in my own country let alone Malta I would say that the answer is simple. What happened in the past happened in the past. This is the present and the Government need to look hard, probably very hard in order to find the required balls to tackle these squatters. They have no right to be there so bulldoze them out. Simple as that.

Can I also ask a question here? Why does the quality of good sense only appear to exist within NGO's? Why do the NGO’s continually have to take on the mantle of good governance? Isn't there anyone within the present Government who can make sensible decisions by themselves without the help of the various NGO's?
N. Bonello(1 day, 21 hours ago)
No !
Joe Grech(2 days, 4 hours ago)
Most probably the time for promises by political parties is over and voters who do not agree with the way things are moving will simply not vote at the next elections unless things are remedied before elections.
D Attard(2 days, 4 hours ago)

Theft by any other name aided by a political party who thinks it has a divine right to rule and will do so at any cost.It is downright disgusting that we should be legalising theft in this way. Is it any wonder that those less fortunate resort to cheating and thieving when they see those whom they elected doing the same and getting away with it?.Anarchy with the connivance of the State.
Joseph N Attard(2 days, 5 hours ago)
It is obvious that both main political parties are guilty of weakness, if not collusion, with the land robbers at Armier, and elsewhere. It is up to us, the greater number of people who did not steal any public land, to make our voting weight felt with both parties. How? Not by whineing here, politicians ignore all such individual heartfelt pleas. No. We must all, Nationalists and Labourites, approach our respective MPs, and warn them that we will not vote for any party that does not promise to take these immensly valuable tracts of land back, and return them to the public, to whom they rightly belong.
Marco Cremona(2 days, 5 hours ago)
Malta has been blackmailed by some minority groups (as the Armier squatters and bird hunters) for far too long; successive governments have shown that they do not have the political will to do justice with the Maltese for fear of retribution (in elections) by the few hundred/thousand voters these groups represent.

Governments have always sought to ignore such pressing issues, preferring to pass it on to the next administration. And when a government is forced to (reluctantly) address a pressing issue as this, we end up with a situation where government tries to applease the law-breakers by giving them 'rights' or 'right of first refusal' to whatever compromise solution they cook up.

The message is clear - it pays to be opportunist and break the law in Malta, because if you are cheeky enough government will applease you.

(same with tax defaulters, people drilling boreholes and pumping water for free, those building in ODZ and public land, etc.)

Unless government takes decisive action now it will be confirming what I have just said. Let's hope government can find the courage to take appropriate action in the national interest.
M.G. Farrugia (2 days, 5 hours ago)
@J.Oatmon naqbel mieghek li sabiex isir xi haga hemm bzonn ta bidla fil-gvern. Jiena inkun lest li nivvota għal dak il-partit li gjhidli se jaghmel dwar dawn l-illegalitajiet. Il-L.P. meta tinqal kwistjoni fil-pajjiz mill-ewwel joħrog jghid tieghu, ezempju dwar l-ambjent huwa il-progett tal-white rocks. Kif wiehed kien qed jistenna sab ukoll fejn jitfa dubju. Dwar se tkun il-politika tal-L.P. dwar l-armier u postijiet oħra ma smajna xejn, forsi ghax il-partit rega mar gġal zmien meta saru dawn il-hnizrijiet u ma irrid jurta lil hadd. Nixtiequ inkun nafu ufficjalment minghand il-P.L. x'se issir min din l-art pubblika.
J Agius(2 days, 4 hours ago)
Kif jaf kullhadd il-partit tieghek kisser u biegh dak kollu li ghamlu gvernijiet Laburisti, bhall banek, sea malta, dry docks, maltacom, enemalta gas division, air malta etc etc, issa ghalfejn qed isibha daqshekk difficli biex ikisser dawn il-hnizrijiet?? Jaqaw hemm balla nazzjonalisti li joqghodu go dawk l-imbarazz fis -sajf? jew hemm xi kuntratturi kbar shabkhom li ukoll qed jghamlu uzu minn art pubblika??
Karmenu Borg(2 days, 5 hours ago)
Tomorrow boat house owner of Ghajn Zejtuna are organising a meeting ,because they are breaking the the law .They have enforcement notice to clear the land they occupied illegally.
It looks like shanty town Big tents occupied the front area were they have a barbecue area dinning room and a reserved parking area . Please let us not leave these land grabbers treating by there vote once for ever
C. Farrugia(2 days, 5 hours ago)
Why in what we call a civilised 21st Century Malta can't the two main political parties sit down and take a common decision to evict these squatters from this public land? They should stop pandering to the votes of these thieves of public land. This situation begets belief. This is the situation that distances the people from their politicians. What is wrong is wrong and even is what is wrong has been carried our for a long time by a large number of voters it still remains WRONG.
L.Farrugia (2 days, 5 hours ago)
@jimmy magro Insejt li kien il-P.L. li kien irregola li diversi minn dawn l-individwi fosthom tal-Ghadira fejn hemm bejta laborista. Issa qed titkellem hekk. Ghidilna x'jaghmel il-L.P. meeta u jekk ikun fil-Gvern dwar din l-illegalita. Kulhadd jinsż u jitkellem kif jaqbel fil-mument.
jimmy magro(2 days, 4 hours ago)
meta trid naghmlu debate pubbliku. jiena qatt ma hadt xejn. fi zmieni ritornajt propjeta li kellu l-partit lura lill-gvern ghax hekk nemmen li ghandu jsir; meta din il-propjeta tkun bla ebda uzu.
C.Sammut(2 days, 4 hours ago)
L Farrugia.. many years have passed since PL was in government.. a lot has been learnt in those years.. but not it seems by PN apologists.. they always refer back to issues of so many years ago.. This, it seems, gives them a sacrosant right to do more damage..
John F. GALEA - San Gwann(2 days, 5 hours ago)
I fully concur with what the the NGO's are saying. Rampant abusive land seizures has been going on for the last four decades. As yet those in authority has never taken the bull by the horn, though lately the young and upcoming parliamentary secretary has shown willingness and spirit to tackle this serious form of abuse.
Politicians are there to safeguard the interests of the general public and to govern according to the oath administered on taking office. Those in authority should never give in to threats by a handful of arrogants. Abuse of partisan politics and vote catching tatics is a malaise of maltese politicians which should be eradicated once and for all.
j,schembri(2 days, 5 hours ago)
wara l-kritika harxa li l-ghadiet ambjentali qalaw dwar in-nuqqas ta' protesti kontra l-kkupazzjoni illegali ta' art tal-gvern minn individwi fl-armier, u diversi postijiet oħra f'Malta dawn l-ghaqdiet hargu stqarrija li fiha ħaltu zewg affarijiet differenti. Filwaqt li l-art tal-White rocks li ghoghobhom jikkirtikaw se tibqa f'idejn il-gvern u minnha se igawdi il-poplu sportiv kollu tal-armier u postijiet ohra hija f'idejn numru ta individwi miz-zewg partiti. Xi hadd fuq dan il-blokk diga stqar darba oħra li l-ghaqdiet ambjentali kienu qed jistennew x'se jghid il-politikanti. Fil-fatt hafna min dak li intqal fl-istqarrija mod specjali mill-punt ekonomiku huwa dak li qal Joseph Muscat. Il-poplu qieghed jitlef il-fiducja mhux fil-politikanti biss imma anki f'min suppost indaħal biex jaqbez ghalih.
Silv. Cutajar(2 days, 5 hours ago)
Dr. Gonzi, where are your PAR IDEJN SODI on this serious issue that has been dragging on since the Labour governments? For many years squatters further flourished under your administration. Law-abiding citizens are demanding only when you are going to seriously start to punish all these squatters who are abusing public land. We do not need to be entertained with petty cases anymore, but we need some concrete action. You can start with the Armier/Torri l-Abjad ghettos if you like.
Do you agree with Dr. Jason Azzopardi that the silent majority must not be underestimated and whoever occupies public land needs to be punished for his/her continuous theft in broad daylight? The general elections will definitely come, and the silent majority will surely express its judgement on the capability of your actions/non-actions on this issue too.
Doing nothing is not an option - it only means that you are still not in a position to protect the law-abiding citizen.
A declaration that any proposals coming from these squatters will not be tolerated and/or accepted by your administration is long overdue. What are you waiting for? Rampant abuse of land must be eradicated from this country. Do not hide behind MEPA.

Joseph Grech(2 days, 6 hours ago)
Let's put politics aside in this national problem. Can some courageous MP move a Private Member's Bill on this rampant abuse of public land? Come on give us back the Armier land to the nation and other illegally occupied land for that matter.

We need politicians that stand up to be counted..... in favour of the honest, law abiding citizens.

Am waiting with eagerness for this move as I am positively sure that most politicians would be prepared to act. Hope I won't be let down on this.
M. Fenech(1 day, 22 hours ago)
Keep on dreaming, and dreaming!!! There will never be anyone in the Maltese political scene that would dare to tackle this issue seriously. You forgot that we are living in Malta, and these things happen ONLY IN MALTA.
J. Mifsud(2 days, 6 hours ago)
I cannot agree more with what the NGO's are saying. They have my full support.

The law-abiding citizen is always the under-dog. It is amazing how politicians can sleep with this heavy conscience, the ruining of the Maltese environment.

As I have written before, dishonesty pays....................
J Oatmon(2 days, 7 hours ago)
To get any action it seems we need a change of government, this government has no backbone, or appetite for righting the many wrongs in Malta.
We have had scandal after scandal, and no action from this government - I have no confidence in this government's ability to make proper and right decisions. To me this government is only interested in itself and papering over the cracks, and not actually making needed reforms or taking action. We always get fobbed off with 'don't worry we are working on it' - it's all talk and plans, and no action. I do not foresee this government being in power after the next election, especially after the VAT scams on car buyers, the VAT frauds, the ADT fiasco's, the MEPA disgraces, the constant suspended sentences, the chief justice corruption scandal etc, etc.
All Joe public gets, is talk and 'get out of jail free' for criminals.
Anthony Briffa(2 days, 6 hours ago)
And Joe Public will get junior Joseph as PM, a man without ideas but full of talk for the gallery. As to the NGO's, I wonder how many people except themselves they represent. During their last manifestation in Vallette they hardly managed to round up 200 people. They must tell us what they want government to do with the land at the white rocks because there argument is similar to that of Joseph whilst they say that they have no political agenda.
B Sant(2 days, 7 hours ago)
dear NGO's finally someone is speaking for the law abiding citizens

we are all behind you and if no party picks ur claim - pls do consider a possibility to have ur say in parliament... before we are at a point of no return ( if this hasnt happened yet)
c. camilleri (2 days, 7 hours ago)
Your agenda now is well known. No one will believe of iota of what you say.
J. Borg(2 days, 6 hours ago)
the usual PN apologist........

yeah sure....all NGOs who do not toe the Gonzi government line....must be PL deputies under-cover!!

is it so difficult to evaluate NGOs and especially environmental issues above the usual self-defeating PN-PL bipartisan sickening games?!
Charles Zammit(2 days, 6 hours ago)
Thats what you say. I stand firmly by these NGOs who had the guts to speak out. Land seizures are abusive by nature and constitute robbery of Public land. Law abiding citizens should not be penalised at the expense of squatters.
Lewis Ellul(2 days, 6 hours ago)
@ C. Camilleri
Whose agenda and what agenda are you talking about? Kemm qed issiru "touchy" dan l-ahhar? il-problema bdewha gvernijiet tal-Labour u komplewha gvernijiet Nazzjonalisti. Pero' l-akbar vilta' hi li issa l-gvern prezenti se jtiha timbru ufficjali u se jigi jaqa' u jqum minn kulhadd, inkluz minnek.
Andrew Paris(2 days, 7 hours ago)
If you want a summer house, rent one or buy one like the rest of the hard working Maltese people that do so.
M.Caruana(2 days, 5 hours ago)
Agreed. Just bring in the bulldozers and start tearing down these illegal eye sores. If they want a summer residence they should buy one like the rest of us. That land is public property and not their private property and it should be enjoyed by all.
walter caruana(2 days, 7 hours ago)
I agree that the illegal squatters are flexing political muscles to retain what they had illegally occupied. I even remember that one such squatter was an ex member of parliament.. One can understand that the government is sensitive to the political factor having a very slim vote majority. Naturally it will be very hard for any government to do anything to correct the problem created many many years ago. There is only one way to force the authorities to act. Remember the proverb ' SET A THIEF TO CATCH A THIEF '. I suggest to the organizations concerned with this problem to form one organization and enlist all those people who agree with them and use this massive force to counteract the the squatters political power. The members of this new organization will vow only to the party or parties that include in their electoral manifesto that they will eliminate all squatters in a defined sh0rt period of time
C.Sammut(2 days, 7 hours ago)
Walter Caruana is this an excuse for government to take no action? Can't anyone use his brains to come up with ideas for a money generating area by the beach which any citizen can enjoy without destroying the natural beauty?
C.Sammut(2 days, 7 hours ago)
I recently drove over to the area of white tower and little armier and its a shame that this area has literally been turned into a shanty town all around. These are bays which I had on a number of occasions enjoyed their natural beauty. Even White tower is now a total shambles. It is also a shame that in Malta if you are forceful and arrogant you get what you want, but not if you are a law abiding citizen. Law abiding citizens become second class tax payers only.
Edward Camilleri(2 days, 8 hours ago)
din hi l-id soda ta Gonzi!

all politicians are just the same, in the first 1-2 years in power they show us some substance, and then they crumble down. Beside the loss of land mentioned in this article one must refer to the millions of Euros handed down each year as benefits to those that do not deserve these. And then we are told that there is not enough money to fund our pensions in the future!
denis attard(2 days, 6 hours ago)
How I would love to see the Labour Party, if it gets to govern, evict all the illegal Armier structures....
Just a wish which will NEVER be fulfilled
Pauline Cassar(2 days, 8 hours ago)
I wonder whether Rambers’ Association, Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar, Friends of the Earth and Nature Trust have anything to stay with regard to the squatters currently occupying a govenment owned historical building bang in the middle of St. Nicholas Square, Siggiewi.

P.S. Squatters = MLP; Govenment owned historical building = MLP club
Carmelo Catania(2 days, 7 hours ago)
Pauline, jahasra qed thallat il-hass mall-qarghabali. Dawn l-Ghaqdiet qed jitkellmu fuq 230 tomna art hdejn il-bahar u int qed titkellem fuq dar wahda fis-Siggiewi. Ghax ma tghidx li l-Gvern/Partit tieghek ghaffigha wahda sew, kemm fuq tas-Siggiewi ghax m'ghandux il-kuragg li jaghmel l-istess haga ma kazini ohra ghax tal-partit tieghu (ez Rahal Gdid), u miljun darba aktar fuq l-art li jrid jghati b'xejn fl-Armier lil min ilu jikser il-ligi ghal hafna snin. Biex tipprova tiggustifika dan l-agir irresponsabbli trid tkun veru bl-ghamad blu fuq ghajnejk.
Joe Vella(2 days, 7 hours ago)
@ Carmelo Catania

Regards Armier, it was the PL Government of Dom Mintoff that permitted the boat houses in the first place. To add salt to injury, the same PL Government provided the Boat Houses with Electricity as well.
A. Brincat(2 days, 7 hours ago)
Tf kemm il-miljun serqu shabek tal-PN permezz ta' kuntratti lil-hbieb tal-PN u lill hbieb ta' dawn il-hbieb. Umux qed nitkellmu fuq "Arms lenght transactions" tafx??? Blinkered PN horses!!!
J. Borg(2 days, 6 hours ago)

dear this stage I don't give a toss who did what and when....

what I am interested is that someone find the proverbial balls to do something about such abuses and renders back to the public in kind the property that was seized from the public........and then ensure that similar abuses do not occur ever again.

The NGOs have highlighted the matter for the umpteenth Government entities and parliament how about doing something right (and really in the National Interest) for a change!
J. Mifsud(2 days, 6 hours ago)
@ Joe Vella

What point are you trying to prove. If it was wrong then, it is wrong now.

I do not have to repeat what Dr Fenech Adami said on the fight of corruption, but it made a lot of sense to the law-abiding citizen.!!!!!

Ehh dak l-ghamad politiku kif ma' jhalliniex nahsbu b'mohhna!!!!!!!
Carmelo Catania(2 days, 6 hours ago)
@ Joe vella
Bir rispett kollu, kif qatt tista' tiggustifika xi haga hazina, b'xi haga'ohra hafna aghar minnha? Jew, kif tghid l-idjoma Ngliza: "Two wrongs don't make a right". Hazin gara hekk fi zmien Mintoff u hafna aghar se jaghmel il-Gvern tal-lum.
jimmy magro(2 days, 8 hours ago)
Today Italian tv stations are talking about a seizure of a lack and sourrounding private property that was owned to italian criminal gangs. although italy is full of corruption, things get done when there is a will to go ahead.

during the mepa reform i proposed that land used for illegal development must be confiscatwed by the state, a priori any legal proceeedings; that is this has to be done by force.

no body from the politicians seems to want this to happen and this shows that no one wants to really fight against illegal development of private or public land. we have a country of omerta and PPP.

the country need not only a good pair of hands but a very strong pair of hands. by giving concessions on taxes, social security payments, land use, rent in arrears, illegal immigration, overstayed visa tourists, abuses in national management, etc the state is being seen as a weak instrument of governance: of course weak with those in power and strong with the weak

for example the letters being issued by ARMS limited are a threat to our national liberty and I wonder whether consumers have accepted notice letters full of threats

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