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Traffic congestion and pollution costing Malta €400m each year

The figure is equal to 3.6% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product, highlighting the devastating economic cost of dirty air and gridlocked roads. 

Traffic levels on the Mediterranean island of Malta are wreaking havoc on the national economy, with losses of around €400m each year now being recorded, according to a European Commission report. 

The review shows this amounts to 3.6% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), backing up concerns already publicised by the University of Malta in 2015, when estimates suggested traffic was wiping €274m from the economy annually.

Back then, the institution gauged this would rise to €300m by 2020, but this now looks like an underestimation by around one quarter. An inefficient road network, and high reliance on road as a form of transport, have been blamed for the situation, with large numbers of private vehicles used to get around the island. 

‘The lack of soft mobility infrastructure, such as pavements and cycling lanes, discourages the use of alternative modes of transport and exacerbates congestion in Malta,’ the report said. ‘Tackling the issue would require improving the overall service quality of the public transport system – its comfort, availability and punctuality – including by providing reserved bus lanes. This could facilitate the modal shift and reduce congestion, emissions and pollution’. 

Perhaps more worryingly, the assessment of Malta’s air pollution and traffic issues includes concerns that the island faces a major challenge in terms of economic development as a direct result of its environmental sustainability problems. Meanwhile, it’s location in Europe means it is particularly prone to high temperatures, which are known to exacerbate air pollution and its impacts on human health. 

Image credit: Spfoia

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