The Malta Independent 23 September 2019, Monday

Signs that people are living rough at abandoned White Rocks complex

Rebekah Cilia Friday, 14 September 2018, 08:29 Last update: about 2 years ago

On entering one of the many buildings of the White Rocks Complex one can see the derelict state of the building. No one would suspect people could be living in such an environment.

However, upon further investigation, The Malta Independent found a number of personal belongings indicating people may be living there.

In one room there is a makeshift clothesline with freshly clean clothes hanging from it. In the same room, a number of candles were also found.

Behind this room is a small opening which leads to an enclosed secluded larger room. This room houses two improvised bedding setups and two suitcases. The suitcases were filled with personal belongings including neatly folded shirts and trousers.

Barricading the narrow entranceway to the room is a slab of wood which may be used to secure the room.

Other buildings in the complex were also investigated but since they are generally exposed to the elements not much else was found.

The White Rocks complex has lain abandoned for many years, and many of its buildings lie in a derelict and dangerous state. Most rooms have no window or doors, and broken glass and stone is scattered all around. There is no running water and electricity, and many areas are overgrown with weeds.

The site in Baħar ic-Cagħaq covers an area of 450,000 square metres, which includes the complex built by the British Forces in the 1960s.

Earlier this year, the White Rocks Development Consortium (WRDC) had reached an agreement with the government for the construction of a mixed-used complex on the Pembroke site, which will include a seven-star luxury hotel, along with leisure, hospitality, residential and commercial units. However the deal remains in limbo as the two parties have still not reached an agreement on the value of the land.

Last month around 120 migrants were found being kept on what was meant to be a farm. The site within the limits of Qormi however, was being used to illegally house migrants.

The farm was cleared out by the Planning Authority, with many of its former inhabitants ending up on the street. According to reports, alternative accommodation had been found for around 80 of the migrants, but some others ended up sleeping in a nearby field.

It was also reported that the migrants were being charged up to €200 to live in inhuman conditions on the former cow farm.

The PA had said that the former stables had been converted into dormitories, with some housing as many as 20 beds. The authority found that all the rooms had no basic facilities or privacy and were significantly overcrowded.  Furthermore, the shower and lavatory facilities were found to be a health hazard for those making use of them.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat had later said that the majority of the migrants were not legally allowed to work in Malta, with a majority having entered the country by air through Italy.

They had told the PA that they were in Malta legally, and thus they were told to vacate the property and were responsible for finding new homes themselves, the PM had said. The government was working on sending the migrants back to Italy, he said.

In recent days, The Malta Independent and other sections of the press have reported about several cases of people sleeping in public gardens, on benches and in bus stops.

Photos: Rene Rossignaud

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