Gozo ‘park and ride’ remains a hole in the ground while PM orders electric buses out

As Prime Minister Robert Abela returned from lofty claims at the UN’s COP 26 climate conference, instructions were issued to initiate the use of six electric buses purchased some two years ago and left sitting in a garage intended for a ‘park and ride’ scheme in Gozo, except the rushed move exposed faults and delays in the planned project.

The buses, costing taxpayers €2 million, were intended for use as a park and ride facility between the Xewkija heliport and Mġarr Harbour. Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri announced this on social media boasting that this was a tangible project which would “decarbonise Gozo”.

While news reports promoted the statements, the park and ride facility in Xewkija is nothing more than a massive hole dug in 2018 – the Gozo Ministry did not even wait for a Planning Authority permit.  Four million in EU funds were dedicated to the project, and some €2 million have been spent.

Now, ignoring the fact that no progress has been made on the construction of the facility that should have been the location for the park and ride scheme, a wide road next to the heliport was turned into a parking lot so the six electric buses started ferrying commuters to the Mgarr Harbour.

The Shift is informed that the system was put together in such a rush that no drivers were found within the Gozo Ministry to drive the buses and the ministry had to turn to Malta Public Transport drivers to man the vehicles.

Prime Minister Robert Abela had announced the ‘new service’ in parliament when he was reporting to MPs about Malta’s participation in the latest climate change summit.

Plan of what should have been the site for the park and ride scheme in Xewkija, Gozo.

Pro-labour media described the announcement as ‘a milestone’ of the Labour government’s efforts to boost the island’s environmental credentials.

The buses were provided by a company owned by Ninu Fenech of Tum Invest, an offshoot of the Tumas Group, for some €1.7 million to be used in what had to be a brand-new ‘Ta’ Xhajma Park and Ride’ as of 2019.

The buses did not come with their charging points. These were acquired later, through an additional €217,000 direct order to the same importer.

Meanwhile, excavations on the site meant to host the park and ride scheme exposed clay terrain.  No other work has been carried out since and the area remains an excavated site.

Asked repeatedly in parliament on progress on the project and when construction is to continue, the Gozo Minister’s consistent reply is that construction will commence soon.

                           
                               
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Ġwanni Fenek
Ġwanni Fenek
8 months ago

Park and ride? More like the government is constantly taking us for a ride!

Simon Oosterman
Simon Oosterman
8 months ago
Reply to  Ġwanni Fenek

Good one!

Lawrence Mifsud
Lawrence Mifsud
8 months ago
Reply to  Ġwanni Fenek

…and it’s not cheap, too.

M.Galea
M.Galea
8 months ago

Zona ohra meqruda! Tal blih!

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