The Malta Independent 21 September 2021, Tuesday

PL committed to Gozo tunnel pledge, Ian Borg says as he skirts around question on referendum

Tuesday, 14 September 2021, 13:45 Last update: about 6 days ago

Transport Minister Ian Borg on Monday skirted around questions on whether the government would be holding a referendum on the Gozo-Malta undersea tunnel, insisting that the government intends to stick to its electoral pledge.

On Tuesday, Times of Malta reported that only out of four bidders for the project has been shortlisted by Infrastructure Malta.

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The shortlisted bidder is a consortium of five companies: UK’s Equitix, Japanese company Itochu, Turkish companies Yapi Merkezi and Makyol, and French company Egis.

Borg confirmed the news, saying that the information has already been made public by the authorities. He also confirmed that the appeals period is now open, lasting until 20 September.

The Malta Independent asked Borg whether a referendum would take place and, if it will, whether it will be held only among Gozitans, as the Nationalist Party proposed some weeks back. 

But the minister was non-commital, saying instead that both the PL and the PN had pledged the project in their 2017 electoral manifestos.

“We will stick to the promise we made to the people, even if the other party has changed its stand,” he told this newsroom. 

Borg said he cannot comment on the shortlisting process, when asked why the other three bidders had been disqualified, citing the ongoing appeals period.

Asked if he believes the project is needed, given the recent introduction of a fast ferry service, Borg said he believes the government should continue working on improving connectivity between the islands, due to Gozo’s double insularity.

“Even the Opposition is insisting on introducing connectivity by air, which is something we were and are still working on.”

He said that, while the “success story” of the fast ferry does raise the question about the tunnel, the introduction of the service does not eliminate other options.

“If the fast ferry had not been introduced, everyone would still be saying that we need the tunnel.”

 

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