The Malta Independent 21 May 2024, Tuesday
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TMID Editorial: Investment in Gozo connection required

Tuesday, 23 April 2024, 10:43 Last update: about 28 days ago

The Gozo Business Chamber last week, during an interview with The Malta Independent on Sunday, highlighted the need for better connection between Malta and Gozo.

Daniel Borg, CEO of the Gozo Business Chamber, said that without a permanent link between Gozo and Malta, there should be heavy investment in the vessels that serve as transportation means, and possibly an increase in the fleet of ferries.

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The idea of a permanent link between the two islands has been shelved. What Borg suggested is a good compromise and is needed. More vessels would mean less waiting time for people to travel between the two islands (especially for those who have no other choice due to work or schooling), and would also mean fewer queues during the peak season.

The Chamber still believes that a form of permanent link is needed, but there are valid fears related to such a link, such as that it would likely spur on overdevelopment of Gozo, an issue which certain parts of the island have already been subjected too even without a tunnel or a bridge.  Borg referred to underwater tunnels that link the Faroe Islands to facilitate transport, adding that their construction did not "result in excessive development". But Malta is not the Faroe Islands, and the situation in our country clearly shows that there are not enough protections against overdevelopment. Development in Gozo, as well as Malta, should be sustainable development, but sadly government policies have thus far failed to result in this. Gozo should not lose what makes the island unique, as some localities in Malta have. There are also concerns regarding the financial cost of a permanent link, as well as maintenance costs etc.

However, this does not mean that all should be left as it is. Gozo does need better connection, there is absolutely no doubt about that, and the improvement of the ferry fleet is one way to tackle the issue. Students need to travel between the two islands, as do people with Jobs on the other island.

The chamber President emphasised that any new vessels that join the fleet must be accessible to everyone and adhere to certain pollution reduction standards. He also mentioned the need for investment in the ports of Mgarr and Cirkewwa, to be able to meet with the demand and improve the facilities available. The investment must, of course, be sensitive to the environmental landscape, but improvements should be made.

Improvement in the fast ferry schedule would also be beneficial for commuters and tourists. Indeed Gozo has a lot to offer in terms of tourism, and tourism to Malta’s sister island is effectively completely reliant on its connection to Malta.

The government should also do more to incentivise business in Gozo, thereby creating more jobs on the sister island, and thus reducing the requirement for people to commute.

 

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