The Malta Independent 18 April 2019, Thursday

Indepth: Gozo Channel ships deteriorating faster due to high demand

INDEPTH online Friday, 15 February 2019, 09:14 Last update: about 3 months ago

Gozo Channel ships are deteriorating faster because they are being used more frequently, Minister for Gozo Justyne Caruana has said.

Interviewed on Indepth by The Malta Independent editor-in-chief Rachel Attard, Minister Caruana said the 10-year life span the current fleet of three vessels has been estimated to have could be shorter.

The MV Malita last week had to be docked for maintenance work, causing disruption to the service. This was also done because Gozo Channel was running the risk of losing its licence to operate the vessel.

With regard to the viability of a fourth ship being added to the fleet, Minister Caruana said that Gozo Channel was operating on a contract signed in the context of what was needed in 2011, which only stipulates a maximum of three ships.

She noted that another problem was the fact that the ports and facilities in Gozo were built specifically for the vessels currently in operation.

While the AFM previously provided helicopter services to Gozo, a new service provider has been contracted by Steward Healthcare, the company running Gozo General Hospital, to provide such services.

The service has been halted due to works being carried out on the new Barts hospital.

The minister also said that studies were being conducted on the re-introduction of a helicopter service. However, it first had to be ascertained that the service would be economically viable.

As the potential for development in Gozo grows, Minister Caruana insists that there must be a plan to ensure that the existing villages do not meet to keep them distinct, and to promote a "green culture and economy". This being part of the Eco-Gozo strategy devised to turn it into an eco-island by 2020.

There is also a draft of a law being voted on in parliament to open an authority which will be the first of its kind for Gozo.

"This entity will be a watchdog on me, and on everyone to safeguard Gozo and its future."

On the White Flag International controversy, Caruana insisted that the Ministry's collaboration with the entity ended but the initiative and work to keep Gozitan beaches clean will continue.

"There are various clean up initiatives organised by both the Ministry or those organised on a voluntary basis, who we also help with resources, but every clean up initiative is to be praised."

 

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