MaltaToday | 03 August 2008

NEWS | Sunday, 03 August 2008

Naxxar pitch’s CCTV delay poses serious safety hazards for children

The local council’s delay in installing a simple CCTV system in the new Naxxar sports pitch meant to curb vandalism is ending up endangering the lives of young people who are climbing high gates to get into the shut down facility.
For the last four months, mayor Fatima Deguara has kept the pitch locked until the CCTV gets installed even though she has set no completion date.
But local teenagers are still climbing over a storey-high metal fence to play inside the pitch anyway, as their parents are getting seriously worried about the dangers involved.
Naxxar residents are calling “farcical” and “ridiculous” the council’s delay in inaugurating the new pitch, pointing out that whereas the reason for the development of the pitch was to keep children away from trouble, it is now doing the opposite.
The mayor somehow insists there is no delay in completing the pitch, and that works are still in progress, even though the only thing remaining to be done is the CCTV system.
“We will not inaugurate the pitch until our contractors have fully completed it,” she told MaltaToday. “This development is external, that is why complaints from residents are reaching you. This is like when you’re renovating your house on the inside. Nobody knows what you’re doing inside. But if you’re doing works on the outside everyone notices, isn’t that right?”
Faced with her constituents’ concerns about the safety hazards caused by what they insist is a delay affecting their children, Deguara insists: “There are no delays,” although she would not commit herself to a completion date.
“At the moment, fencing and metal works are being done all round… or actually I think they finished those but we still have to install CCTV in the area,” she said.
“Before we have everything done we’re not opening it officially. I am aware of trespasses and the police try to control them, but we cannot expect the area to be guarded at all times. The council has also affixed a sign by the entrance to advise that anyone trespassing does so at his or her own risk.”
Ironically, an hour after the mayor referred to the sign, a council clerk called informing the journalist that the same notice was itself vandalised.
“The sign by the entrance which the mayor spoke to you about has been vandalised, so the warning is not visible,” the clerk said. “We are now placing print-outs around the perimeter instead.”
The multipurpose pitch, set in an open space opposite the council offices, was part-funded by the Malta Football Association (MFA) after an agreement to promote sports in the locality was reached. Last week, MFA President Joe Mifsud was contacted for his reactions to this specific situation.
“Thank you for this information, but I was not aware of this,” Mifsud said. “We don’t have inspectors at the MFA… The funding of the pitch in Naxxar, as with other pitches around the island, was intended to promote sports in the area. In case a pitch, wherever it is, is not used, we’ll make them use it. There is an agreement,” he said.
Asked to specify what action the MFA would be ready to take in such cases, he answered: “How should I know?”

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