Saturday, 18 February 2012

A bumpy road for Dr Gonzi

During the Times debate hosted by InterContinental Malta, where one actual Prime Minister sparred happily and contentedly with one maybe soon-to-be-Prime Minister, little was heard about how the government, in its wobbly state, can be sustained if Franco Debono pulls the plug on it.

Of course, the lawyer MP from Għaxaq will not do the final hara-kiri move of dumping the government. He can hardly afford to lose such a great spotlight. Even the said debate was hogged by his comment to The Times while the debate was going. Lawrence Gonzi must curse his ghost that digitally, virtually and most perniciously haunts him, teases him and drives him batty.

But maybe there is some sense in Dr Gonzi’s thinking. Like many a driver I have gone quite a distance with a slow puncture, sometimes knowingly, more often stupidly. You do it – the driving – inelegantly but you still get there, so elegance be damned.
Not sure how the Oxford dictionary – or whatever means of finding meanings to words is used today – defines “slow puncture” but I always thought it meant one of four tyres in a car that is deflated. OK, the Nationalists are a deflated lot right now and seem in total disarray and all polls seem to be pointing to a real axing by the voters. But, as I was saying, my slow punctures hardly stopped me from getting to my destination. In fact, in view of our roads, the strange thing is that we are constantly driving with half a dozen slow punctures.

Motoring enthusiasts will obviously cringe at the suggestion that cars have six wheels. But let’s give ourselves a potential puncture count: four wheels to move car: check; one spare wheel, which, with all the bumps, is definitely punctured as well: check; last but hardly least, my brain is punctured with all the bumps in our pristine roads, so sixth puncture: check.

More importantly: Is there a minister responsible for roads, by the way? If there is, please Dr Gonzi, don’t divide his ministry, just divide his body from his head and pass it on to some laboratory to make sure no similar human is ever entrusted with roads in any future Cabinet. Is this roadie rogue of a minister part of the oligarchy, by any chance? Where is his sense of shame? Resign, say I, to the screeching ayes of Dr Debono and a few other road users.

If you think our Roads Minister is bad and you are contemplating changing him, her or it, for a spanking new Labour one take a deep breath: they will be even worse or just as bad.

Let me explain why: Msida has a red-led council. They are at the moment – have been for some centuries actually – doing some road works.

And I know it is the Msida council not the central government because they have notices visibly reminding us that all this work is being undertaken by the said council. They took an age to finish one road – which was in a devastated state while pipes were being installed by the same council – for so long I thought it was some new road works strategy: we rock you while you drive on our little, dusty rock.
Anyway, after the long wait, the road was tarmacked. Great, I thought, purring along on the new glittery surface. Two days later I passed again – back to its old potholed and moonscaped state. Worse than before they laid the tarmac.

We, the taxpayers, rage, get frustrated, we are offered silly detours that lead nowhere and we lose precious time of our productive life while these road works go on, and never-endingly, on.

And the Msida council, which, I repeat, is Labour-led, could be a symptomatic reflection of what we can expect from a Labour Roads Minister: utter road mayhem where money is spent to give us more of the same potholes or deeper, shameful chasms.
Let’s get back to that infernal slow puncture. As I said, before road and ministries’ rage interrupted me, we can live with a slightly deflated tyre. We will get to our destination even if our car will hobble there.

We can live happily with the slowness but maybe not Dr Muscat who must be dying to get a grip of our roads and sweep them clean. See him stand there with his jack ready to change the tyre and rev up.

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