Paola’s €3 million square will be dug up again and rebuilt, MP claims

Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi rails in House over plans to rebuild Paola main square three years since its inauguration in 2018

Paola’s main square is set to be rebuilt completely only three years since its inauguration in 2018, PN MP Jason Azzopardi claimed in Parliament on Wednesday.

“In the days or weeks to come, technical tests will be carried out in five areas along the square so that it can be removed and rebuilt next year,” he said.

He referred to two parliamentary questions answered by Minister Jose Herrera, one of which said that studies are going to be carried out on the paving of the square to see if existing damage was caused by voluminous traffic or because it was not built correctly.

“This is scandalous. When the project was being carried out, it hit businesses in the area because no one was going there. It was a big inconvenience.”

The regeneration of Pjazza Antoine de Paul was first announced in 2015. It cost €3 million to complete, and was eventually inaugurated by former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat in 2018.

A 2020 report commissioned by the Paola council found that the overhaul of the main square is peppered with defects.

Paola deputy mayor Darren Lynch flagged five major issues from the report when it was finalised.

He said the lighting system at the top part of the square was not functional because the wiring was not in place. The wiring for the zebra crossing has not been installed, both ground fountains in the square are not operating because the reservoirs that feed them do not store water, and the benches are already rusty.

At the time, project architect Chris Mintoff told MaltaToday that the issues flagged by the council were long deemed unacceptable by his firm and presented to the contractor to address.

But Mintoff also called for industrial traffic to stop passing through the centre of Paola since this was causing damage. "While the repairs are taking place, enforcement and maintenance are lacking, and once a project is handed over general upkeep is expected. This includes stopping industrial heavy vehicles from accessing the town centre which should have stopped a long time ago," Mintoff said.