Tunnels maintenance project also goes to… Construct Furniture shareholders

The private consortium which was awarded a multi-million contract for maintenance work on four main road tunnels on the island is directly linked to the shareholders of Construct Furniture – one of the business families with the closest links to the Labour Party, The Shift has learned.

The work, which was supposed to be completed almost a year ago, is still ongoing, and is already more than 2 million over the allocated budget.

Investigations by The Shift show that the consortium formed to get the 12.5 million tender – Bifra JV – is a joint venture between BI Ventures, a local company registered in Luqa, and Infram SRL, an Italian roads company from Naples.

BI Ventures – the Maltese component of the joint venture – is registered in Luqa, at the same address of Construct Furniture and was formed just a few months before it bid for the road tunnels tender. 

Valerio Camilleri – known as Il-Hawsla – from Zebbug is one of its directors together with Liam Ferriggi from Zabbar.

Il-Hawsla is one of the most prominent members of the Construct Furniture family and is known for his unconditional support to the Labour Party. He is involved in many other companies that, since 2013, have been awarded a multitude of tenders and direct orders worth millions and paid from state coffers. These include Bava Holdings and Specialist Group Cleaners – both regulars on the list of direct orders issued through many government ministries.

BI Ventures and Bava Holdings

According to the Malta Business Registry, the shareholder of half of the shares of BI Ventures is Bava Holdings, a direct offshoot of Construct Furniture.

Apart from Valerio Camilleri, Bava Holdings is owned by Adolphus Camilleri, Alfiero Camilleri and Bridgitte Agius – all owners of Construct Furniture. 

On the other hand, the other shareholder in BI Ventures, Liam Ferriggi is also the owner of other companies, mainly related to construction, including Smart Infrastructure Limited – also a recipient of Transport Malta direct orders.

During the past years, Bava Holdings has been making the headlines frequently, particularly due to its regular inclusion in the list of direct orders and tenders dished out by Infrastructure Malta and Transport Malta – both under the wing of Minister Ian Borg.

Transport Minister Ian Borg and Infrastructure Malta CEO Frederick Azzopardi

However, the largest bonanza from public funds was received by BAVA Holdings soon after Labour’s second win at the polls in 2017, when the company was awarded a raft of direct orders related with the building of a new shooting range in Ta’ Kandja.

Together with Bonnici Brothers – closely linked to Prime Minister Robert Abela, Bava Holdings received millions from Sports Malta for the shooting range project.

An NAO investigation found that 13 million out of 14 million in contracts for this project were given through direct orders without any adherence to public procurement regulations. These direct orders, including those to Bava, were all signed by Chris Bonnet – at the time acting CEO of Sports Malta and now a Labour party candidate on the Zabbar district. The police were investigating the procurement process of the shooting range, but no charges have yet been presented in court.

Tunnels costs spiralling

The maintenance on the four tunnels – in Regional Road, under the Skatepark in Msida, the ones in Sta Venera and the Kirkop tunnels – was procured by Infrastructure Malta through three different tenders. Bifra JV presented the lowest offers in all three and then proceeded to negotiate a 12.3 million price for the project.

According to the tenders, all work had to be completed by the end of 2020.

However, both costs and completion targets have gone awry.

According to the latest information submitted in Parliament, the costs on the project have already spiralled to 14.7 million – almost 2.5 million more than projected. This is still not the end of the story as work is still ongoing and costs are expected to increase substantially more by the time the project is concluded.

According to Minister Ian Borg, the overruns, both in costs and duration, were due to ‘new requirements’ requested by various government authorities – including his own Transport Malta – following the award of the tender.

This ‘tactic’ has become the norm for entities under the remit of Ian Borg and is considered as a ‘legal’ mechanism to increase payments to contractors outside the provisions of the original tender.

 

                           
                               
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viv
viv
5 days ago

‘The Shift’ ‘s investigations are consistently on the ball. The police’s investigations… require investigation.

Janet Wojtkow
Janet Wojtkow
5 days ago
Reply to  viv

Too right!

Paul Vella
Paul Vella
5 days ago

And yesterday evening, the southbound tunnel of the St Venera was closed just after 23.00hrs without any notice appearing on the ‘intelligent’ signage (intelligent signs need intelligent homo sapiens to operate them) so as I was on my way to MIA, I had to divert through St Venera and go back to the by-pass through Cannon Road.
On the way back, (within half an hour) it was the turn of the northbound tunnel and TM personnel were diverting vehicles through the southbound tunnel.
Just before going through that, we noticed a small group of persons (probably TM and ministry bigheads) posing for a photo inside the northbound tunnel so I guess they wanted to immortalise their moment!

Joseph Micallef
Joseph Micallef
5 days ago

No wonder Ian Borg is getting fatter by the hour. Look at his face, it is all the fault of his snout all the time in the trough.

Albert Bonnici
Albert Bonnici
5 days ago

Ta Kandja shooting range? Another white elephant with tax payers’ money going to the wrong pockets. The shooting range is practically abonded.

Karmenu Psaila
Karmenu Psaila
3 days ago

I only ask has any engineer or architect estimated the real cost of this repair work ? because I am seeing the prices blown up , are you noticing that since we are getting 80 % funded from the EU the prices for any tender has rocketed ?.

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