“This is a national issue: we are fighting against the uptake of one of the most beautiful, important bays in Malta, and we will fight this project by any means available,” Moviment Graffitti activist Andre Callus said to a sizeable, vocal crowd gathered in front of Marsascala Bay earlier today.
The activist group, flanked by residents, local councillors and associations dedicated to fireworks and decorations for the local feast and even self-declared Labour party supporters, called a press conference to voice their total objection to the yacht marina project announced by Transport Malta (TM).
Besides outlining the issues associated with the project, Graffitti and the residents also announced a protest to be held in the same location on 27 August at 6.30pm to further oppose the project as part of a campaign to get it scrapped altogether.
Local councillor John Baptist Camilleri, one of the first to oppose the project, explained how the yacht marina plan published by TM is structured to accept submissions catering for up to 700 vessels.
Since then, TM has attempted to stifle public outrage at the plans by claiming that the project’s description plan, which envisages an uptake of a total of 12,000sqm for land reclamation and berthing structures taking up the entire bay, is only “an artistic impression”.
Camilleri accused TM of “trying to fool” residents with this statement, calling out the authority for releasing its plans on a public holiday in an attempt to quietly shuffle plans through without anyone noticing.
The local councillor explained that the project is meant to accommodate 140 vessels of up to 40ft in length, 350 vessels up to 77ft, 170 vessels up to 120ft and 35 vessels above 120ft, vessels which would be much larger than the under-40 ft vessels that dot the bay presently.
“Nobody mentions the residents in this report. Swimming will have to stop in the area, as well as for anyone who goes fishing. We don’t know who designed this, but we know for sure that they don’t have the interests of the residents at heart,” Camilleri said.
Fellow resident Jeremy Camilleri argued that, despite different interests, those attending the conference were united in their “disgust” at the project.
“All of us here today are one team, united above partisanship, above politics. This is the only way we can move forward; we live in a democracy, everyone has the right to make themselves heard, but it is not enough. In a democracy, they need to listen to us,” he added.
Resident and Marsascala activist Mary-Anne Theuma thanked residents for showing up in numbers, who she said, “have become a family with one united purpose: to say no to the destruction of our village at the hands of those who only wish to enrich themselves at everybody else’s cost”.
“They make land and sea theirs by right, and they want to do everything the way they please as if nobody existed except for them. We have an obligation to those coming after us to leave behind a bay that is better than what we inherited,” Theuma said.
“The yacht marina will bring more expenses for everyone, noise, more building, land reclamation, stagnation in the seas, more traffic and parking problems and more pollution,” she added.
Representatives from groups dedicated to local activities such as traditional fireworks, setting up village decorations for the local feast, fishing and sailing also spoke of how the yacht marina would essentially throttle all the activities held in the area which are crucial for their survival.