Gozo Ministry engages same lawyer as contractor to defend Marsalforn road project

Minister Clint Camilleri breaks promise to amend plans on controversial Marsalforn road

 

In an appeal filed against the planned ‘upgrade’ of the road linking Marsalforn and Victoria in Gozo, the ministry has chosen to defend the project through the services of the same lawyer used by the project’s contractor, Joseph Portelli.

Lawyer Ian Stafrace, who, until 2013, was the CEO of the Planning Authority, is appearing on behalf of the Gozo Ministry in an appeal filed against the contested road project filed by Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar (FAA).

Stafrace, a former associate in the law firm of Prime Minister Robert Abela and his father George, is also representing Portelli’s company Prax Ltd, which operates an illegal batching plant in Gozo on public land, in other cases.

“It would be interesting to know which side Stafrace would take if problems arise between Prax Ltd and the Gozo Ministry over the €9 million project,” another contractor told The Shift.

In 2019, before plans for the upgrade of this arterial road were even announced, the Gozo Ministry awarded a €9 million tender to Portelli’s consortium, involving Prax Ltd and Gatt Tarmac.

Despite objections from environmental organisations, citizens and the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA), the Planning Authority approved the permit.

If carried out, the project will have a heavy environmental impact, with the uprooting of some 300 old trees lining the Rabat-Marsalforn route and the take up of thousands of metres of agricultural land to the detriment of farmers.

In a clear attempt to prevent an appeal that could halt the project, Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri met NGOs last September and promised a revision of the plans. While Din L-Art Ħelwa said in a statement that it would not proceed with an appeal “as a sign of goodwill”, FAA still proceeded to file an objection.

The Gozo Ministry engaged the services of Stafrace to defend the project, the same lawyer tasked with advancing the interests of his other client – Prax Ltd.

Meanwhile, despite his public declaration in September 2021, Minister Clint Camilleri has had second thoughts. Insisting through Stafrace that the project should go ahead as approved, the Gozo Ministry has not submitted changes to approved plans.

Sources said that while the project has been put on hold temporarily, due to the upcoming general elections, works are expected to start immediately after.

The Shift is informed that during the past months Prax Ltd has already conducted the necessary tests along the road to ensure it is ready to proceed once Minister Camilleri blows the whistle.

                           
                               
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Gerald Lapira
Gerald Lapira
3 months ago

Why are we not surprised any more!?!?

M.Galea
M.Galea
3 months ago
Reply to  Gerald Lapira

Filth nothing else! With these projects they are ruining everywhere they touch but they are making millions of commissions into their pockets! Thats why these projects, but the gullible get fed that it is for them and for the country! Jahasra!!

Nosmo King
Nosmo King
3 months ago

Has the term ‘conflict of interest’ become obsolete?

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