The Malta Independent 23 August 2019, Friday

Government threatened with legal action over tendering system for rehabilitation of Gzira marina

Wednesday, 26 June 2019, 15:12 Last update: about 3 months ago

A number of berth holders at the Gzira yacht marina have threatened the government with legal action over the opaque tendering system used to gather proposals for the rehabilitation of the marina, after their bid was disqualified without explanation and owners were then told that they would lose their berths.

In a judicial protest filed today by 15 boat owners who make up Berth Holders Ltd, the First Hall of the Civil Court was told that the losing bidders had no idea who made up the selection board, how they were paid or what their interests were.

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Berth Holders Ltd is part of the Island Group JV consortium which had submitted a proposal under Request for Proposals 001/2017, titled "A Concession for the Rehabilitation, Operation, Management and Transfer Back of Gzira Gardens Yacht Marina."

But the company was told that their bid had been disqualified and the tender was subsequently awarded to Gzira Gardens Marina Consortium.

Because the plaintiffs suspected irregularities in the granting of the tender, they had filed two Requests for Information under the Freedom of Information Act asking whether the contract, asking whether the concession contract had been signed - and if so asking for a copy - or if not signed, why. In either case, said the plaintiffs, they wanted to see the technical specifications of the winning tender. The RFIs were addressed to Transport Malta and the Contracts Department.

But 35 days later, the plaintiffs say they are still none the wiser, despite the law stipulating that information must be received no later than 20 working days after the request was made. That would have been on 10 June. In the meantime, they had received a letter, informing them that they would lose their berths. Previously, Transport Malta had inflated their berthing fees, they said.

They are claiming a breach of their rights under article 39 of the constitution and article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights due to the lack of guarantees of a fair hearing. The information on the mode of appointment, dismissal, period of appointment, possible conflicts of interest, private interests and payment are all hidden, they argued. This "seriously impinges on the independence and impartiality of the members of the Selection Board," reads the judicial protest filed today. 

In addition, Transport Malta had written to the plaintiffs, saying that their information would be passed on to the winning consortium, who would be in touch. The plaintiffs asked that this not be allowed to happen, invoking the Data Protection Act.

Finally, they pointed out that the berthing rights at Ta' Xbiex Yacht Marina are currently the subject of litigation in which it is being argued that there is a valid contractual relationship between the yacht owners and Transport Malta and that the authority had no right to evict them.

Lawyers David Camilleri, Joseph Gatt and Lorna Mifsud Cachia signed the judicial protest.

 


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