Scrapping Malta's traffic problems

Marie-Claire Grima - 2nd May 2016

Malta has one of the oldest car fleets and one of the lowest take-ups of electrical vehicles in all of Europe - can the successful scrappage scheme, which has been re-introduced for the fifth year in a row, help clear the air and the streets?

A Eurostat survey last year revealed what many of us could probably deduce by observation – that Malta not only has one of the highest numbers of passenger cars per capita amongst the EU member states, but also one of the oldest passenger car fleets.

On an island where congestion and pollution from private cars are becoming increasingly aggressive problems, it comes as no surprise that Transport Malta’s scrapping scheme, which was introduced in 2011 with the aim of getting a mere 1,000 elderly cars off the island’s overcrowded roads, has been a runaway success, with the quota being filled and exceeded every year. 1,146 vehicles were registered under the scrappage scheme last year alone. As a result, it has been reintroduced with a broader scope year after year.

“The launch date for the 2016 edition had to be brought forward to December 2015 instead of January 2016, due to popular demand,” a spokesman from Transport Malta confirmed.

The 2016 scrappage scheme includes many aspects of the original scheme, including the awarding of a one-off grant of between €700 and €900 to every person who scraps a private passenger vehicle which is older than ten years and registers a new car whose CO2 is between 101 and 130g/km. However, it also includes a host of other measures aimed at reducing emissions, which could indirectly also ease up the log caused by traffic jams, especially during the morning commute and the drive home from work. These include allowing people with a Category B driving license to drive a scooter or a motorcycle without requiring additional licensing (a minimum of ten hours training is required), the introduction of a flat annual licence fee of €10 for all motorcycles with a cubic capacity lower than 125cc, and the removal of registration tax for electric motorcycles.

The same Eurostat survey which confirmed the antiquity of many of Malta’s passenger cars also showed that up until 2013, there were only 27 vehicles out of Malta’s entire fleet of private cars which ran on alternative fuel, such as electricity. In order to combat this, the current scrappage scheme also focuses on people and organisations purchasing and registering hybrid vehicles. Hybrid vehicles are much better for the environment than cars, which run solely on fossil fuels such as petrol and diesel, and following the initial investment, much cheaper.

Grants ranging from €2,000 to €3,000 are available for the purchase of hybrid vehicles with low emissions, and as an added bonus, they are exempt from paying the CVA in Valletta. Companies wishing to invest in electric vehicle charging points will be given a grant of up to €1,500 towards the expense.

“When you scrap an old car, you are putting a nominal value to a vehicle and removing it from the Maltese roads, thus helping to lower the average age of the current fleet,” the representative from Transport Malta said. “We are incentivising the registration of newer, smaller and cleaner cars and collecting more revenue for Government.”



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