Gozo Ministry ‘completes’ illegal works at Gozo pool project as costs soar by millions of euros

Planning Authority expected to sanction illicit works next week, while finishing works haven't yet begun


The Planning Authority (PA) is next week expected to approve major interventions made by the Gozo ministry without the necessary permits during the ongoing construction of a new pool and sports facility in Victoria.

At the same time, while the costs of this national project have already skyrocketed from the planned 9 million to at least 16 million, the new facility is still in shell form and a new tender for an additional cost of 700,000 has been issued to install the pool’s floor.

Gozo pool latest tender for the pool floor, which will increase the costs by a further 700,000 euros

With a permit originally approved by the PA in 2017, the government issued a tender for the upgrading of the existing sports complex, with the aim of adding an Olympic-size pool to the facilities.

However, through the direct intervention of 33-year old Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri, the project deviated sharply from approved plans, and the existing sports complex was dismantled and a new structure erected instead.

Now that the new building structure has been almost completed – though the finishing works are yet to start – the Gozo Ministry has asked the PA to sanction the new interventions – all built without a permit.

The PA has already signalled its disposition to do as the government requested and is recommending an immediate green light.

Gozo pool as originally approved (left) and the news plans submitted to the PA for sanction

Among the works set to be approved are an increase of almost two metres in the height of the new complex and an internal set-up that’s completely different from that approved by the PA in 2017.

TVM reports pool is near completion, when the structure is just a shell

As part of the propaganda exercise unleashed by the Gozo Ministry, intended to give the impression that the pool is almost ready, the national broadcaster last week prominently reported the ‘news’.

While stating that the pool is “almost complete”, the reality is that the complex, which was scheduled to open its doors this year, is just a shell and is now not expected to be up and running before at least another 12 months.

While TVM failed to mention the changes to approved plans, it gave no date for when Gozitans will be able to use the new facilities. The Gozo ministry is still procuring new services, somehow left out of the original tender issued for the building of this new complex.

TVM announced last week in its main news bulletin that the Gozo pool is almost ready

The latest ‘addition’ – some 700,000 in increased costs to be forked out by taxpayers – is the floor of the new pool. Although this was an ‘obvious’ part of the project, it was not included in the original 9 million tender.

Joseph Portelli and ic-Caqnu benefit

The main beneficiaries of the hefty additional spending on this long-awaited project – originally pledged in Labour’s 2013 electoral manifesto – will be Gozo construction magnate and political parties’ donors Joseph Portelli and Charles Polidano (known as ‘Ic-Caqnu’) whose joint company was given the tender to build the new complex.

While they won the original 9 million tender, the additional work has already seen their company rake in an additional 7 million.

The cost is expected to continue to surge – there still remains significant outstanding work to be done before the project is completed,  and the Gozo ministry continues to change its plans along the way.

Apart from the illegal internal alternations to the plan and the height changes that are set to be officially sanctioned by the PA next week, the Gozo ministry has also constructed a new wing to be used as a cafeteria inside the building. This, also, did not form part of the original plans.

Eventually, the Gozo ministry is expected to lease this new lucrative facility to a private operator. It is not yet known whether this lease will be granted through a competitive tender or another direct order.

The Shift has already reported that most of the concrete used to construct the massive building – hundreds of tons – have been transported directly from the illegal concrete batching plant mounted and operated illicitly by Joseph Portelli in a government-owned quarry in Kercem.

The illegal batching plant continues to operate daily, supplying among others, several ongoing public projects in Gozo. 

Following various media reports about the open illegality of the plant’s operations, the PA has issued an enforcement order intended to shut it down.

However, no police action has been taken to close it down and seal it off, and no criminal action has been taken against Joseph Portelli and his partners Mark Agius, known as ‘Ta’ Dirjanu’, and Daniel Refalo – a concessionaire of public land for the renting out off sunbeds in Comino.

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9 months ago

Wonder of wonders, Owen Galea and Norma Saliba, both Labour stalwarts and former Super 1 cronies, manage the biased TVM website.

saviour mamo
saviour mamo
9 months ago

The government can might as well scrape the Planning Authority. Everything is devoid of a meaning.

Ġwanni Fenek
Ġwanni Fenek
9 months ago

L-aqwa żmien… għall-ħnieżer.

Patricia Richards
Patricia Richards
9 months ago

It’s time the PA senior members are completely and thoroughly replaced.

Every week more scandalous building approvals are being positively sanctioned by the current PA with staggering amounts of money with big contractors and questionable other individuals.

The PA should be headed by foreign architects and civil engineers with a maximum employment contract of one year. Then cases of nepotism and cronyism benefiting Maltese contractors and MPs and their family members/ canvassers would be eradicated.

Malta and Gozo has been raped and construction projects are totally out of control, case in point, when the construction Magnet Portelli of Gozo, openly confirms he would be “happy to pay a fine” for his building penalty, openly confirming he was guilty of building illegally.

No fear it seems at all that the PA enforcement unit would and should bulldoze the illegal construction. But he and many like him just continue to build with impunity knowing a small fine would be the only penalty this current PA will impose, if at all on them .

9 months ago

Tal–Misthija. Serq, illegalitajiet galore u qisu xejn mhu xejn ma min jidrilhom. Ara jekk tkun genwin jaraw kif isalbuk ir-rejiet u rgejjen t’ Ghawdex.

9 months ago

Norma Saliba dalwaqt ikollha tirrispondi ghal dan il-qerq kollu. Il-poplu jiccediedi meta jigi mitlub. Ara narawx xi gabirjola fl-elezzjoni li gejja. Il-fatt li Robert Abela ser jiehu z- zmien kollu biex isejjah elezzjni jaf ifisser xi haga ohra

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