The Malta Independent 21 January 2021, Thursday

€37m investment in Freeport operations to further reduce impact on surrounding residents in 2021

Tuesday, 12 January 2021, 18:13 Last update: about 8 days ago

The year 2021 will see Malta Freeport Terminals increase the potential for more work and the creation of more job opportunities, Economy Minister Silvio Schembri said on Tuesday.

Speaking during a visit to the Freeport, Schembri said this is thanks to the record investment and the strengthening of Maltese trade in connection with more than 100 harbours worldwide.

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The Minister spoke about the government's vision for Freeport for the year 2021, which will experience the largest investment of around €37 million. He also referred to the investment being made in Freeport’s operating systems equipped with technology that diminishes environmental impact through a lighting system that allows ships to switch off engines when Freeport is moored. This reduces pollution as well as noise in the port.

This investment includes the installation of two modern quay cranes to help manage containers with an investment of €20 million, to be installed by summer 2021.

Minister Schembri emphasized the need for a balance between the operation of the Freeport and its support for the community of Birżebbuġa, noting the ongoing work on the supply project for an Onshore Power  Supply. With an investment of more than €12 million, this will be of benefit to the surrounding residents who will see a lack of emissions and noise, currently generated by moored ships.

Minister Schembri made reference to the contribution of Freeport to the growth of the country's economy and its key role in keeping local industry receiving raw materials so that Malta's exports do not  get affected.

He outlined  the performance of the year 2020 and explained that although this was challenging on a global level, when comparing the performance of the work at Freeport Malta with that at harbours across the Mediterranean, the indications are encouraging. Statistics show that the total flow for 2020 was of 2.4 million containers. There were a total of 131 thousand containers that were either local imports or exports in particular from Asia, with a contribution to the local economy of more than €160 million.

He referred to the work on the construction of a three-storey car park which will be open to Freeport workers, residents of Birżebbuġa and the general public and which will involve an investment of €3 million from MFC with works scheduled to start from Projects Malta in the first quarter of 2021. He said that the MFC asked Infrastructure Malta to prepare an indicative quotation for the necessary repairs on the Medserv pier and part of the Oiltanking pier. The estimate is of €1.6 million. 

During this year, the MFC will continue with the environmental monitoring and will financially help non-governmental organizations in the community of Birżebbuġa from the fund managed between the MFC and the MFTL.

During the visit, the minister met with employees  in charge of operational safety, workers in charge of transhipments, container handling and freight forwarders and thanked them for their zeal. Freeport employs 1,496 employees.

Malta Freeport Corporation CEO David Magro recalled the Authority's responsibility for security in the Freeport area. He said that in 2020 around €180,000 has been invested in terms of security and noted the relentless work with customs.

Malta Freeport Terminal CEO Alex Montebello said that despite the economic difficulties faced by the pandemic, Freeport has continued with important investments through the signing of the contract for the purchase of two quay cranes. He said that Freeport is one of the main pillars of the Maltese economy, having a direct as well as an indirect impact on the economy of our country, while generating the creation of hundreds of jobs.

 

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