“This whole issue has served one, good purpose: many people have taken this as a lesson to unite and defend this bay from attacks from rich people. We are not wealthy in terms of money, but we have a wealth of courage and determination,” Marsascala local councillor John Baptist Camilleri said to a large, cheering crowd gathered in opposition to a yacht marina proposed by Transport Malta.
The protest, addressed by speakers from Moviment Graffitti, traditional feast clubs, the local council and concerned residents, signaled unequivocal opposition to the project which seeks to turn a public bay into a marina catering for 700 yachts.
“Over the last two weeks, what has worried me the most is what the ministers have said about the project. They told us we need to accept this in the same way people in Gudja had to deal with the airport and in the same way Birżebbuġia had to deal with the freeport,” Camilleri said in his speech.
“In other words, the environment minister admitted that this will continue ruining Marsascala,” Camilleri said, pointing out that the environment minister should be aware that Marsascala has already been burdened with a waste facility and fish farms along the coastline.
“Minister, you’d better tell us what you’re going to do with the fish farms who have been covering us in slime and muck every year along our coastline and beaches!” he added.
Moviment Graffitti activist and former Marsascala resident Wayne Flask referred to how last year, Environment and Resources Authority chairman Victor Axiak had blamed Marsascala residents for the excessive urbanisation of the locality.
“I am mentioning this especially because Axiak should, today of all days, admit that it is spineless authorities that turned Marsascala into what it is today. First, they melt at the sight of a developer carrying fat sacks of money, and then they blame this on us,” Flask said.
“Can they explain how this marina is our fault? Or is it the fault of those who, as usual, cast the first stone and then hid their hand, like minister Ian Borg. He’s the one who told us he wants to turn this place into a parking space for yachts,” he added.
Flask called out both Borg and environment minister Aaron Farrugia, arguing that “one desperately wants to develop everything while the other rolls over for the sake of earning praise”.
“This locality deserves better. The responsibility of the prime minister and all politicians should be us, not those who are friends of friends. Do not let anyone offer you the road to compromise; the time for compromising our quality of life has passed a long time ago,” Flask said.
Local fireworks coordinator David Spagnol spoke of the “disgraceful would-be project” and the existential threat it poses to traditional displays organised by their club in the area.
He also spoke of the “great loss” all locals would suffer if the bay were to be lost to build the yacht marina, arguing that it would affect not just residents from Marsascala but also residents from nearby localities for whom Marsascala became a go-to beach town.
“I appeal to everyone to refrain from turning this issue into a game of political football. I want to appeal to the minister of transport; we heard you tell us that there are loads of people buying these kinds of yachts, and that there is a need for more of these marinas,” Spagnol said.
“Here, we’d be getting 700 yachts. So minister, are you telling us that you are planning on accommodating these 700 yacht owners while ignoring the cries of thousands of Marsascala residents who disagree with this yacht marina?” he asked.
Spagnol also referred to how the yacht marina project was being compared to famous coastal cities like Monaco.
“For those who don’t know what Monaco is like, it is a country for millionaires. It is not for workers like us who earn enough to get by. Whoever wants Monaco, should go to Monaco. This is Marsascala, and the locality should stay as it is,” Spagnol quipped.