The Malta Independent 21 October 2018, Sunday

Maintenance on 19th century Kerċem water canals as part of HSBC Catch the Drop Campaign

Wednesday, 13 April 2016, 15:16 Last update: about 4 years ago

The Minister for Gozo Anton Refalo and HSBC CEO Andrew C. Beane officially inaugurated the HSBC Catch the Drop Campaign project at Għar Ilma, in the limits of Kerċem. 

Dr Refalo said that this initiative is funded in part by the HSBC Group so as to raise awareness about water conservation and to encourage a positive change in Malta and Gozo by using water wisely and in a sustainable way. Works have been financed by the Ministry for Gozo and the Catch the Drop scheme of HSBC.

Built in the 1880s by the British, these water canals used to take water to the aqueducts from Santa Luċija to Victoria. In Santa Luċija, the Administrative Council carried out maintenance on the water channels from Santa Luċija to Victoria. During the summer of 2015, several students from Gozitan schools attended for visits at the Għar Ilma site where they learned to appreciate how our ancestors used to harvest water as a precious resource.

The Minister reiterated that, as an educational programme, the Catch the Drop campaign raises awareness about water conservation, therefore encouraging people to make better use of this precious resource. Projects with such an objective are important when considering the true principles of  an  eco-island.  Minister Refalo said that, “Our vision for our island  is to become even more beautiful, inspiring, welcoming, thriving, inclusive and successful; a healthy and successful place to live in, in equilibrium with the environment. This is what an eco-island will strive to achieve.”

Andrew Bean said: “Għar Ilma enjoys historic significance on a national level, and creating easier access to it for the general public ensures that this important aspect of the country's history can be appreciated by visitors to Gozo. Preserving Għar Ilma is about preserving the rich and unique culture of Gozo for future generations.”

The Banca Giuratale is a baroque structure designed by Knight Charles Francois de Mondion. It was originally the seat of the Università, the municipal government of Gozo. After the abolishing of the Università during the British period, the Banca Giuratale housed various entities ranging from Gozo's General Post office to the Civic Council for Gozo. It presently houses the offices of the Gozo Cultural Organising Committee and the Victoria Local Council.

Minister Refalo thanked HSBC Malta Foundation for their generous sponsorship.  He noted with pleasure that such an important and historical building is now back to its original glory.  Minister Refalo said that strategically situated in the middle of Gozo's main square, the restored building will be admired by all Maltese and foreigners for many generations. Such embellishment will add value to Gozo. The Ministry will continue to support all activities and encourage all locals and visitors  to enjoy and participate in. Gozo is an island of all seasons, but best of all, it offers peace of mind and security.

Minister Refalo noted that works on this unique baroque building in Gozo, which used to house Gozo's local government, include the removal of all superfluous cables and fixtures attached to the façade, the removal of cement based rendering, the cleaning of the façade, the replacement of damaged stone blocks and decorative cornice, the maintenance of timber apertures, and waterproofing of the Banca Giuratale's roof. All intervention works were carried out under strict supervision and with the most appropriate techniques to ensure the best possible results to give the utmost enhancement of the building's historical and architectural qualities/attributes.

"Financing the restoration of the magnificent Banca Giuratale fits our commitment to invest in the community, especially in ways that bring about lasting benefit to society. This centrepiece of Gozitan heritage, placed strategically in the heart of Gozo, can now be admired in its full glory by visitors for many years to come," said HSBC Bank Malta CEO Andrew Beane.


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