The Malta Independent 21 July 2018, Saturday

Updated: Nationalist Party seeks reversal of Żonqor land transfer to AUM

Tuesday, 2 January 2018, 10:49 Last update: about 8 months ago

The Nationalist Party will be seeking to reverse the transfer of public land in the Zonqor area in Marsascala which was leased to Jordanian investors for the construction of the American University of Malta.

The request was made on Tuesday morning by PN deputy leader for parliamentary affairs David Agius, who presented a motion to Speaker Anglu Farrugia.

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Agius argued that the development on virgin land was not necessary, as this private institution has failed to attracted the high number of students promised by the Sadeen Group.

This has also meant that the university has had to dismiss a number of its employees, Agius added. Five environmental NGOs had already also suggested that the land is returned to the Maltese public.

The motion states that the investors had promised to bring 4,000 students but this target had gone haywire as at present there are only 15 students.

Back in December 2015 the green light was given to Sadeden in a special parliamentary resolution that approved the transfer of land in Zonqor to be used by the American University of Malta. The AUM had received full university status by Malta’s higher education commission (NCPHE) in 2016, but the proposal for the 41,000 square metre campus in the Zonqor natural park prompted a massive national protest a year earlier.

However, the motion submitted by PN deputy leader David Agius, and MPs Karol Aquilina and Fredrick Azzopardi said that whereas the university pledged to have 4,000 students, only 15 had so far been registered. 

Aquilina said that the opposition was not against anyone coming to Malta to open up places of education, but this should not be done on ODZ land, especially when it is clear that such development is going to serve only for land speculation. “A land that is an ODZ needs special circumstances to allow such development and here it doesn’t not seem like the number of students that were expected will be met”.

“That’s why we believe the House of Representatives should ensure the government takes every step needed so that Zonqor in the limits of Marsascala does not remain in the hands of the company Sadeen Education Investment Limited but should be left in its natural state and once again become a public land that it protected and can be enjoyed by everyone whilst becoming part of the National Inwadar Park” the motion states. 

PN motion

In a statement, the Labour Party said that the PN is still hijacked by negative people. The PN has ignored the fact that the government has always indicated that work related to the AUM should start with the campus in Cospicua, and not at Marsascala.

This shows that the government has already made it clear that the Zonqor part of the project will only come to life if the AUM grew and expanded according to the agreement reached.

The AUM underwent a stringent process to be given a licence, and all studies show that the project should be a success. It is a pity that the Opposition is trying to put spokes in the wheels, the PL said.

Front Ħarsien ODZ welcomed the motion presented by the Nationalist Party which seeks to reverse the transfer of public land in Żonqor to Sadeen Group, The Front has always insisted that ODZ land in the area should never have been allocated for development irrespective of the number of students attending the university. The Front appealed to all parliamentarians to support the motion in a way which reflects non partisan consensus against environmental degradation and ODZ development.

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