The costs for the building of a new public Olympic-size pool in Gozo have almost doubled, from a projected €9 million to €16 million.
The revised costs were announced in a statement by the OPM last week. Yet, only last October, during a visit to the project in Victoria, the Office of the Prime Minister announced that the new Gozo Sports Complex was expected to be completed this year at a cost of €9 million.
Yet seven months later, the costs almost doubled with no explanation given.
The Shift asked the government’s chief spokesman, Matthew Carbone, to explain the increase in costs. The questions were ignored.
Last December, the Shift reported about the expected massive increase in the government’s budgeted expense on this project as the original plans to build a pool adjacent to the existing sports complex were suddenly changed by the Gozo Ministry.
While the original plan was for the pool to be an extension of the existing sports complex, the contractors suddenly dismantled the entire sports’ complex structure (recently renovated by EU funds) and started excavating the whole area.
Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri did not reply to questions asking for an explanation and also stonewalled various parliamentary questions by Gozitan Opposition MPs who called out the sudden change in the project’s direction.
Caqnu and Joseph Portelli main beneficiaries
Works on the pool project were awarded through a tender and won by a joint venture formed by construction magnates Charles Polidano, known as Ic-Caqnu, and Gozitan developer Joseph Portelli.
The tender was awarded for €9 million.
Following the change of plans, for reasons nobody knows, it is now expected that both Portelli and Polidano will rake in higher profits since the revised budget has suddenly shot up by at least another €7 million.
The Shift had reported that, contrary to the original plans, the massive parquet flooring of the sports complex, refurbished just a few years ago through EU funds, had been dug up and mostly thrown away, together with the roof of the complex, which was also changed recently and financed by taxpayers.
The Gozo Minister had said that this was necessary following a storm that had damaged the roof. No details were given and residents in Gozo living in the vicinity of the project have told The Shift they doubt whether this is true.
Sports enthusiasts who used to visit the facilities daily had also told The Shift that they never noticed any defects in the roof and the sports complex never had any leakages even during heavy storms.
The pool complex was pledged by Labour in 2013. Works are now at a frenetic pace as the government wants the project to be completed in time for the next elections.
The Shift has recently also revealed that hundreds of tons of concrete used in the project is being produced by an illegal concrete batching plant owned by Joseph Portelli in Kercem.