Not so smart…

Do you remember Lawrence and Austin bragging about the blocks of flats called ‘Smart City’? This quote from an interview with Smart City CEO carried in last Sunday’s Sunday Times is dedicated to all those who fell for their hype, exagerations and downright lies. In Malta they can get away with such things – who does this reflect badly on  – the electorate, them or on both? 

From an interview with Smart City carried in The Sunday Times Sunday, June 10, 2012, “In it for the long haul at Smart City”

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He argues that there is a wrong perception that Smart City Malta is meant to create the promised 5,000-plus jobs in the first year.

“Every time Smart City comes up, the 5,600 figure gets mentioned. It’s not 5,600 in the first year, it’s not in the second year, it takes time.

“It’s about 12 years, and the 5,600 might happen in the seventh year, it might happen in the 11th year, but is Smart City Malta only about that?”

But that is not quite what Tecom signed up to when the deal was sealed in 2007. According to its contractual obligations, Smart City Malta should have created in excess of 1,000 jobs by now, increasing to 2,000 by the end of this year.

In fact, had the government not fallen back on its side of the deal to demolish the Wied Għammieq sewage pumping station on the site, Smart City Malta could have been slapped with fines for failing to meet targets.

Legally speaking, the authorities’ failure bought Smart City more time, but the pumping station cannot have had any real impact on the management’s ability to sell the project.

So what happened to the projections?

Mr Abdulrahman’s answer is that the world has changed since the projections were made in 2007.

“If you had to do that study today, or better still, two years ago, you would not have come close to those figures. I think people are smart.” He points to the aftershock that the financial crash of 2008 had on the global economy and especially Dubai, which his team was targeting specifically as a source of substantial investment.

That may very well be the case but Smart City Malta kept being talked about in those terms well after the 2008 firestorm.

Is there a gap between the expectations raised about Smart City Malta and the situation on the ground? Again, he seems uncomfortable with the direction of the question.

“I’ve been explaining this for almost three years now. Does anybody care? It will happen regardless of anything.”

What does that mean?

“I don’t want to get into this area, I don’t want to get into the politics because it is not our area.”




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