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MALTATODAY 14 August 2022

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maltatoday | SUNDAY • 14 AUGUST 2022 10 NEWS KARL AZZOPARDI THE debate surrounding rent- al kick scooters will heat up yet more, as politicians and con- cerned residents take to Face- book to vent their anger against illegally parked scooters. Social media is awash with photos of electric rental scoot- ers carelessly parked on pave- ments, blocking public walk- ways and even garages, with the tourist localities of Sliema, St Julian's, as well as Gzira and Msida seemingly the worst-hit areas. This is not the first time the issue has been raised, with MaltaToday reporting on the matter last year when one of the main scooter operators – ride-hailing platform compa- ny Bolt – saying it would be looking at and addressing com- plaints. Three main companies operate in Malta – Bolt, Whi- zascoot and Bird. Replying to questions by this newspaper, Infrastructure Minister Aaron Farrugia said Transport Malta (TM) was now currently in the process of amending legislation to em- power its enforcement officers to be able to enforce applicable legislation. "The ministry has also held meetings with the Malta Insur- ance Association and the Min- ister is in touch with the Malta Local Councils Association re- garding the matter," a ministry spokesperson said. The amendments to the law follow a number of discussions with relevant stake holders such as councillors, who have not always felt being listened to by the ministry. St Julian's mayor Albert Butt- igieg said issues had already been raised by a number of councillors, before the service was introduced, but authorities failed to take recommenda- tions on board. "We have been in discussions with operators, and when we raised the issues of scooters be- ing driven on the promenade, they said that they were issued licensing by the transport au- thority. As a council there is little, we can do against that," he said. "Now we are in a sit- uation where providers don't want to listen to our demands." Buttigieg said a proper trans- port alternative, which could be even more effective in densely populated towns like Sliema and St Julian's, is now receiving flak due to the lack of planning. "Without the proper consultation, it has turned into something that people hate." Anthony Chircop, who heads the Eastern Region – a group of 12 councils – also said the re- gional council had proposed a number of changes for author- ities to introduce. They met the transport authority back in November, and were promised new regulations. Since that meeting, TM is yet to come back with any feedback. Chircop said that while the regional council does agree that rental scooters are a "very good" alternative, the reality is that most of users making use of the service are "joyriding". "The reality is that a large percentage of users use them for joyriding, around the clock. Even during the early hours of morning, you have groups of people using them for fun, and not to commute," he said. "We need a broad approach to the problem. While it is the council's prerogative, it would do little to solve the problem if each councillor or mayor just thinks about their locality on- ly." Last week, the PN's climate change spokesperson Eve Borg Bonello, who also contests the tenth district, even went as far as calling for the suspension of rental scooter licenses "until an adequate solution is found". MaltaToday reached out to the PN's Infrastructure spokes- person Adrian Delia, on wheth- er this was the party's official position on the issue. Delia had also joined the social media mob against the rental scoot- ers, calling on followers to send over photos of illegal parked vehicles. But he said the PN doesn't believe the issue should be re- solved by local authorities, but a nation-wide effort by gov- ernment. "It is necessary that although these means are af- fordable for wide use, they are regulated in such a way that security is guaranteed for both users and the rest of the people, and no inconvenience is creat- ed," Delia said. "It is also necessary for the government to immediately launch an educational cam- paign that ensures knowledge and respect in their use. There must be clear and effective consequences for offenders Transport Malta officers will soon be allowed to enforce rental scooter illegalities "Without the proper consultation, it has turned into something that people hate. The reality is that a large percentage of users use them for joyriding, around the clock. Even during the early hours of morning, you have groups of people using them for fun, and not to commute" Kick scooters, a convenient and fast way for individual commuters to travel around busy Maltese towns, are turning into 'something people hate' because of the unruly manner in which they block pavements and with which they are used by its joyriding commuters

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