Planning laws have been brushed aside in Gozo in the construction of a large new ramp in the port of Mgarr, ostensibly required for the imminent visit of Pope Francis.
Over the past few weeks, and through the electoral campaign, builders, together with their cranes and heavy machinery, began building the new ramp at the port, costing taxpayers tens of thousands of euros.
The ramp is being built without a permit, even though, according to the law, such a development should only have been carried out with the approval of the Planning Authority. No tenders were issued prior to the start of this project and all works are being done through direct orders awarded by the Gozo Minister.
The PA’s spokesman failed to reply to questions from The Shift about whether the authority had issued a permit for this development.
Sources told The Shift that the ramp was necessary for the Pope to be able to visit the island during his trip to Malta.
“So that the Pope comes to Gozo for less than two hours, the Government, together with the Curia, decided that the Pope should travel to Mgarr with the catamaran, accompanied by all his cars and security. Since this posed a problem, as the catamaran could not disembark any cars within the current port structure, the Gozo Minister found a solution by building a new ramp,” the sources said.
On previous papal visits, the Pope travelled to Gozo on the catamaran as a foot passenger and found his cars waiting for him at the quayside in Gozo, so there was no need to construct special ramps or create any other additional infrastructure.
“It seems that there was no problem in spending tens of thousands of taxpayers money for such a short time instead of getting the Pope with a passenger catamaran as happened in the past,” the sources said.
According to the official programme, Pope Francis will arrive in Mgarr on the catamaran this Saturday at 5pm and leave on a Gozo Channel ferry at 6.45pm.
The sources said that this time around “the Pope was a good excuse to spend some more taxpayer funds during the electoral campaign and make some contractors happy”.
It is expected that the large structure will be dismantled next week, soon after Pope Francis departs following his two-day visit.