The Malta Independent 28 October 2016, Friday

Precedent set at Mepa, as private company set to financially help local council

Noel Grima Thursday, 21 January 2016, 19:24 Last update: about 10 months ago

A precedent of sorts was established at Mepa this afternoon.

On 5 November the Mepa board had ordered Pama to improve the landscaping around its newly-opened multi-store outside Mosta.

The board also ordered Pama to remove the services - such as airconditioning units - from the roof.

However, not all these orders were carried out.

The owners of Pama also faced having to pay a bank guarantee of €1 million.

Instead, they came up with a novel idea. They joined forces with the Mosta Local Council and came up with the novel idea of committing themselves to a set of improvements to the Mosta fabric as suggested by the local council.

This was a novel precedent joining together a government authority and the private sector. It was explained the private sector can do things faster and cheaper without going into the government contracts timescales.

(It was also a novel precedent on the political level since the architect representing Pama is former minister and present Labour MP Charles Buhagiar and the Mosta mayor is former PN parliamentary secretary Edwin Vassallo).

Mr Buhagiar explained to the board why the board's previous order could not be fully implemented since there were, and still are, road works along Triq il-Pantar and so works could not be carried out by Pama on that side of the building.

Previously, the site was almost derelict, with a marble and tile factory, lots of dust and parts of the building were unused and abused by vandals.

Moreover, since the opening of Pama another long-standing complaint by the neighbours had also been addressed: people watching football at the nearby ground can now park their cars in the complex's ample parking space and thus an acute parking problem whenever there are games has also been addressed.

Mr Buhagiar also explained that the proposed planters on the side will cover up most of the air-conditioning units; others have been removed but others cannot be moved elsewhere.

Besides, the roof is earmarked for 2,500 PV panels which will generate one million units a year.

That was also an impelling reason why Pama linked up with the local council.

Mr Vassallo, on his part, read out a list of improvements that Pama will be asked to carry out in Mosta:

-         Redoing the pavements in many streets in Mosta

-         Fitting out swings in two public gardens in Ta' Mliet and Ta' Zokkrija

-         Providing the local council office and the clinic next door with tents over the access, as there is none today.

-         Publishing a book about Mosta directed at schoolchildren.

There was some discussion among the members of the board especially on the part of Alex Vella who seemed to think this was an advantageous bargain for Pama from the €1 million bank guarantee.

At the end, it was agreed the agreement between Pama and the local council was to become a notarized agreement and only after this was done Pama can withdraw a €100,000 bank guarantee.

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