In a reaction to the launch of the white paper on schools’ role in alleviating traffic congestion, the MUT is highly disappointed that the Government seems to believe that the main solution to reduce traffic congestion from Maltese roads seems to lie with changing schedules for Maltese students.
First of all the Union would like to point out to the Government that most State Schools are already receiving students an hour before the official opening time, and in spite of these arrangements the congestion remained unchanged. Also, many schools, including all Church and Independent schools, have different opening times. Moreover, during the summer recess when there is no school transport, the congestion in Maltese main roads experienced little positive change and is still congested almost on a daily basis during rush hours.
The Union therefore appeals to the competent authorities to stop wasting everyone’s time and conduct a proper comprehensive exercise that can determine more accurately substantial solutions to this perennial problem. Even without expertise on the subject, the MUT asks whether anything is being done on the lack of trust in public transport; on the logic behind certain traffic lights and zebra crosses; on the lack of pedestrian underground/overhead passages; on the hopeless planning of exits on main roads; on the outright lack of skills many drivers show on the road which results in accidents and even more congestion; on the lack of moratoriums on heavy vehicles, waste collections and road repairs; and on dangers related to horses and horse driven cabs which slow traffic down considerably. Such a list is certainly non-exhaustive but shows that if the Government is really willing to find solutions to this multifaceted problem it should not just deflect it onto schools and onto its students.
In the meantime the MUT would like to make it absolutely clear that it is in total disagreement with any plans to force students leave their homes earlier than necessary, and it is also against any plans which will result in added responsibilities to the already overly burdened heads of schools, or any other teaching grades. The Union will never accept that its members are forced to supervise students on buses, with the exception of transport for children with special needs which is already in force. The Union agrees with the Government that there should be feasible solutions for students to start using public transport, which would present solutions on various levels including bullying, time management and traffic. The MUT also believes that an investigation should be launched to establish whether the current contract for State Schools school transport was done in an appropriate manner given that it was signed before the last general election and tied the hands of the Education Directorate for no less than seven years.