Two families evacuated from their homes – works on Saqqajja Hill expected to take weeks
Damages in the upper part of Saqqajja Hill are quite substantial with this important arterial road of heavy traffic use facing closure for a period of weeks. The work required from Infrastructure Malta is not simply that of patching up the road but the road has to be completely rebuilt. As a precaution two families have been evacuated from their homes.
The families, resident at the top of the hill, have been provided with alternative accommodation by Infrastructure Malta. The step has been taken until repairs have been carried out on a wall that was supporting the road they verged on.
The road was resurfaced at the end of last year but had to be taken up again from its foundations because last Wednesday’s bad weather damaged the wall supporting it. The wall descends into the fields below Saqqajja. The house facades concerned have been propped with concrete blocks to prevent the buildings slipping forward.
Infrastructure Malta architects and contracted employees descended two storeys to check out the foundation structure resting on the bed rock. The round-the-clock work taking place is under the supervision of the archaeology sector of the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage. Television Malta is informed that a substantial cache of earthenware has already been found. A Spokesperson for Infrastructure Malta said rock samples have been taken in a zone that according to architect is built on clay foundations. He said that trenches have developed on which the road is resting and this has weakened it.
He said interventions will be made on the trenches and the water flow and the flow will be diverted to help establish a stronger foundation.
Had not the visit of Pope Francis been postponed there would have been a greater headache for the authorities because this would have been his route to and from the Tal-Virtù Nunciature to attend scheduled events. It has not as yet been defined how long the road works will take because samples have to be taken from different areas and then architects will have to decide the best solutions. Minister Ian Borg has indicated this will not be work of a few days.
He said investigations started immediately and caused the road closure and emergency works to begin and these may take several weeks because the situation is more serious than many think.
The work on the Saqqajja zone is similar to that of work on the Għeriexem zone on the other side of Rabat and which is also built on clay. In this area rock samples are being taken and then the road will be redesigned toward Mtarfa Valley.