In St Paul’s Bay, cleaning crews cannot track rubbish

A St Paul’s Bay family living in Triq l-Iskuna had to deal with a rat infestation as a colony of rodents nested in an old mattress left on the family’s doorstep for more than two years.

“After several reports, they finally took it down,” a family member said.

The family are among several residents of St Paul’s Bay facing deteriorating health conditions as authorities struggle to manage rubbish collection, bulk litter and rubbish in Malta’s most populous city.

The problem persists despite the fact that, since the beginning of this year, employees of the Cleaning and Maintenance Division have been deployed every afternoon, picking up an average of 15 tons of waste per day from Monday to Sunday.

Several residents expressed their concerns Malta weather. Resident Alexandra Tutulan said rubbish is sometimes left to ferment for two or three days in the heat.

“We are hit with a really bad smell of rotting garbage every time we leave our building, she said.

Garbage is a serious problem in Triq l-Iskuna, according to a resident who also complained about the rat infestation.

“People keep throwing stuff everywhere,” she said.

Greta Staknienė said many areas are littered with empty water bottles, cans and plastic bags.

We are hit with a very bad smell of rotting garbage every time we leave our building

St Paul’s Bay Deputy Mayor Carlos Zarb said the locality’s large population means that waste problems are proportionately greater than in other locations.

A preliminary report from the 2021 National Census showed that the population of St Paul’s Bay has almost doubled in 10 years, reaching 32,000 in 2021. Much of this growth is attributed to immigration.

Garbage bags sometimes sit on street corners for days. Photo: Jonathan Borg

Two residents attributed the problem to a number of strangers who are unfamiliar with the schedules of the garbage collection system.

Recyclable, biodegradable and mixed waste is intended to be placed in bags of different colors and taken out on specific days.

A fine is supposed to be imposed on anyone who fails to meet the timetable, but enforcement is lacking, the deputy mayor said. He said a better rubbish collection system needs to be put in place, including the introduction of underground bins, he said.

Questions have been sent to the Local Enforcement System Agency, the responsible entity, but no response has been received at the time of writing.

A St Paul’s Bay resident working at a hotel in the area said: ‘Sometimes I don’t understand why tourists come here. As soon as I open my front door, I see garbage bags.

Malta Hotel and Restaurant Association chairman Tony Zahra said the cleanliness problem had been prevalent for many years with some improvements noted for a short time before it “returned to where it started “.

“It’s one of our main tourist destinations and we have to keep the area clean all the time,” he said.

Wooden panels and a broken fan, lying on a pavement in St Paul's Bay.  Photo: Jonathan BorgWooden panels and a broken fan, lying on a pavement in St Paul’s Bay. Photo: Jonathan Borg

The Cleaning and Maintenance Division has invested in a refuse collection vehicle, a high-pressure street cleaner and two dedicated crew cab dump vans solely for St Paul’s Bay, according to general manager Ramon Deguara.

“Unfortunately, in this locality, waste collection services have to be more frequent because the demand is very high. Illegal trash dumped on sidewalks is out of control,” Deguara said.

“The spilled items range from monitors to furniture, appliances and mattresses,” he added.

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