The Malta Independent 7 December 2019, Saturday

510 educators among Gozitans who were stranded in Malta due to Tuesday’s rough seas

Kevin Schembri Orland Thursday, 14 November 2019, 09:08 Last update: about 22 days ago

510 educators were among the Gozitans stranded in Malta overnight between Tuesday and Wednesday, the Gozo Ministry told The Malta Independent.

Strong winds and rough seas led the Gozo Channel to announce at 1.20pm on Tuesday that all ferry services were suspended. This mean that all Maltese in Gozo and Gozitans in Malta were, essentially, stranded.

Later on Tuesday, the Gozo ministry began working to negotiate preferential accommodation rates at hotels for the Gozitans stranded in Malta, asking those who went to the hotels to hold on to their receipts. After managing to find accommodation for all Gozitans stranded, the ministry then began working to negotiate preferential accommodation rates for the Maltese stranded in Gozo.

This newsroom sent a number of question to the Gozo Ministry, asking among other things, for further information as to how many people were found rooms; whether the people themselves would need to pay anything, whether this was the first time such a move was made by the government and why it chose this year to start, and for the total cost for the government of this measure.

The ministry said: “For the very first time, the Ministry for Gozo offered accommodation to both Gozitans and Maltese who were left stranded due to severe weather conditions and couldn't return home. We are aware that there were around 510 educator stranded in Malta. Later today (Wednesday), the Ministry for Gozo will be launching an application for those who benefited from the preferential rates negotiated by the ministry to apply for financial assistance to cover costs.”

From the answer given it does not seem like the ministry knew at that stage, the exact number of people who were stranded, or how much the move was going to cost the government.

The Malta Independent had reported that in 2017, there were just under 3,500 commuter workers between the two islands, who were predominantly Gozo and Comino residents working in the Malta region..

The strong winds and rough seas that battered the Maltese islands on Tuesday had left some localities, like Xlendi, flooded, and had even caused Electrogas to have the Delimara LNG tanker moved 70 metres off the jetty.

Indeed the bad weather also saw Nationalist Party spokesman Chris Said suggest that Gozitan workers who were trapped in Malta on Tuesday should be given an additional day of leave over and above their yearly allotment, and that the government should then compensate private entities who offer this extra day of leave to their Gozitan workers.

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