The Malta Independent 18 October 2018, Thursday

Watch: ‘Go look at the master plan’ - PM fails to say who will pay for Pembroke tunnel

Julian Bonnici Tuesday, 15 May 2018, 13:15 Last update: about 5 months ago

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat today failed to answer specifically whether developers or the taxpayer would be footing the bill for the building of a planned tunnel in Pembroke, where a number of mega projects are to be carried out. 

One of the projects is the 37-storey tower, hotel, and 24,000 sqm shopping mall being proposed by the db Group at the former ITS site. There are also other developments in the pipeline, including at the Villa Rosa site. 

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Muscat told The Malta Independent that the details of how the cost of infrastructure would be split between the developers and the taxpayer were outlined in the Paceville master plan.

The master plan clearly states that the financial estimates for the tunnel "does not consider whether the measures proposed are financed by the public and/or private sector at this stage and are used to compare the options only at this stage. "

It should also be noted that the master plan was scrapped by the government and placed under review in February 2017 following widespread criticism that the initial plan was geared more towards the developers rather than the needs of the residents of St Julian's, Pembroke, and Swieqi.

Developments have still continued being approved by the Planning Authority despite the fact that master plan has been under review for more than a year, with the mammoth tower at Mercury House and large-scale development at Villa Rosa already approved.

At a meeting between the residents and the developers on Monday, db Group CEO Arthur Gauci failed to answer specifically who would be footing the bill and whether the proposed tunnel will be constructed before or after the development is completed.

Muscat today was asked to comment on the residents' and NGOs concerns that the development could be completed without the proposed tunnel ever being built.

Rather than answer the question directly, Muscat elected to go down the partisan route, telling the newsroom that the roads that were supposed to be constructed leading to Smart City were never actually built.

Asked whether this was a clear indication that there is a serious possibility that the tunnel will never be constructed, Muscat said:

"I am not saying that but rather that in the past there were plans that were not fulfilled. We are committed to this project, and if certain developments have to take place, we will meet the developers and reach an agreement."

At Monday's meeting, Graffitti member Andre Callus told Gauci that their whole project was based around a 'fantasy' tunnel that there is yet to be an application for, to which Gauci repeatedly said that they have a commitment to construct the tunnel. 

Pembroke mayor Dean Hili seemed to agree with Callus, saying that he could not understand how such developments can be approved when the surrounding infrastructure was not completed.


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