Government Projects Provoke New Wave of Political Interest: and the people’s right to know

Leo Olivero

I’d like to start off just by saying that, as someone who has followed and reported on politics closely for a good many years. I am glad to see the amount of political engagement and discourse not only generated by Panorama, but also on social media in general. We’ve even had after many years, a public demonstration regarding a political decision taken which has created a controversial setting and also as the reporting angle of this article! 

Government projects, currently look like “a free for all in the hard-hitting public debate chamber” with public exchanges between proponents and opponents. The inbetweeners or the natural in society are mostly left confused.

The wide spread ‘heavy duty’ or ‘not stop’ construction boom that has battered Gibraltar for the last 20 years or so, now appears to be seriously catching the public’s attention and participation.

Over the years, and with successive governments, Gibraltar has witnessed and suffered as the architectural and building structure of hundreds of projects, has literally transformed the look of Gibraltar. But also, into a nation with largely divided in opinions. At the moment the Line Wall Road issue is testament to the latter comment!

Construction Industry Vital Part of Our Economic Model and Untouchable?

Different local administrations, have gone to great lengths to reassure, not only the building industry, but also the nation, that the construction industry is “a vital part of our economic model” and it will continue to be so after the pandemic recedes. Gibraltar is so dependent on this industry, it couldn’t fully pause its activity for a few weeks, while the whole of the Gibraltar was in lockdown, as this reporter highlighted a few times in my Panorama Covid contributions.

Some even believe, the local construction industry is so powerful, they are untouchables now and will be in the foreseeable future!

However, people quite rightly, may ask should we also bring Gibraltar to a standstill because of a virus or can the same argument be applied ‘to more important sectors like education where schools had to close; and justice, where most court sittings were adjourned’. What makes or made construction more important than education, justice and other commercial activities?

Presently, there is much more interest from the local public in these issues. In fact, much more than an issue like Brexit, important as it is. Brought on I suspect, when people are grimly being told by the politicians on the one hand, that the economy has taken a huge hit with the pandemic and of using phases like ‘doing more for less’ and in tightening the national belt and starving of the ‘cash cow’ than on the other hand, and practically overnight it seems, thousands are spent on plans, glossy pictures and artistic visual impression on multi-million pound controversial projects like the one proposed for Line Wall Rd which with the public were totally oblivious to!