One of the stickers visible near an outdoor restaurant patio, Source: Moviment Graffitti

Maltese residents protest rampant occupation of pavements by restaurants with stickers

Maltese residents protest rampant occupation of pavements by restaurants with stickers

The brewing conflict over the limited public spaces led to the eruption of a protest over the weekend

There’s a growing problem in Malta. It’s one that most foreign visitors and tourists might not be aware of, and that’s because they might be partially contributing to it. It’s the increasing encroachment of catering establishment tables and chairs on the sidewalks and squares of the small island nation.

The issue has reached such levels that it can be described as a veritable conflict between civil society, supported by NGOs, such as Moviment Graffitti, on the one hand, and the small business establishments that seem to disregard the right of access to urban public spaces, and the careless authorities, on the other.

Last Saturday, there was in fact a large demonstration in the capital Valletta calling towards the relevant institutions to start their work and enforce the existing regulations regarding the right of use of public spaces. Last year, the Republic’s Ombudsman went to Parliament to demand better rules and procedures regarding outdoor establishments, as well as better enforcement and punishments for the breaking of said rules.

Stickers as the voice of the people

So far, it seems the issue has stayed without resolution, so this is where Moviment Graffitti has stepped up with a guerilla tactic. The association handed out hundreds of stickers to volunteer citizens, who have the freedom to place them anywhere they wish to as a way of voicing their displeasure.

The stickers have messages on them, such as “No Pavements, No Vote” or “Pavements for Citizens” (both in English and Maltese), that directly call for civil disobedience in the face of governmental inaction.

The stickers have appeared in Valletta, Sliema, Mellieħa, Marsascala and Buġibba over the last few days.

Moviment Graffitti said the sticker campaign was the first step in further planned action. The NGO claims that they were not against having catering spaces outdoors, but that this was a fight against the rampant abuse and lack of enforcement.



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