Gozo Museum project falls behind as costs swell and direct orders proliferate

Construction works on a new museum in Victoria, Gozo, have fallen years behind schedule while the estimated €5 million budget earmarked for the project in 2016 – mostly through EU funds – is expected to more than double by its still unknown completion date.

Announced in 2016, with works started a year later, the museum is nowhere close to completion while multiple direct orders are being issued, including to the contractors who had originally won the lucrative tender and are yet to finish their job.

Through a tender issued in 2018, Xewkija-based contractors, Vella Brothers Ready-Mix Ltd, known as tal-Malla, were selected to do all the construction works related to the new museum for a set price of €1.2 million.

However, while the works are still ongoing, and despite the fact that the museum should have already opened, the Gozo Ministry has been awarding direct orders to the same company, significantly increasing the costs of the museum’s project.

Preliminary estimates show that, so far, close to €1 million in ‘extra’ direct orders have been given to Tal-Malla, including a new €662,000 direct order last February (a few weeks before the general elections) for more “construction works”.

Sources told The Shift that Tal-Malla will “probably end up receiving more than double the €1.2 million original value of the construction works they had tendered for in 2018…The ministry’s excuse, common in Gozo, is that the project had to be re-designed due to archaeological findings”.

An artist impression of the new Gozo Museum presented in 2016

The still unfinished works concern just the construction phase of the project. Separate tenders and direct orders, amounting to many more millions, have already been awarded for finishing works and installations, including some €2 million to Halmann Vella Ltd.

It is being calculated that the cost of the museum, when ready, will rise to over €10 million.

Minister Clint Camilleri did not reply to questions on the matter in parliament by PN MP Chris Said.

The brainchild of former Gozo Minister Anton Refalo, the museum, located at the former Ninu Cremona Lyceum in Victoria, next to the Arkadia complex, was first announced in 2016.

Since then, two other ministers have taken over the Gozo Ministry, while works were halted and postponed several times.

While works on this project are being carried out at a snail’s pace, this did not prevent Refalo from making a significant ‘acquisition’ for the museum.

Despite the fact that Heritage Malta is the responsible entity for the project, in 2017 Refalo announced he had spent some €371,000 from the Gozo Ministry’s budget to buy a Mattia Preti for the museum. Refalo had acquired the painting through a Sotheby’s auction.

Refalo, himself an art and antiques collector, is known to have a significant personal collection, including several Pretis. This, despite his modest income tax declarations over the years.

Earlier this year, The Shift also revealed a protected VR Marker in one of Refalo’s properties, mounted in his Qala home’s courtyard.

While it is illegal for such an old marker to be held by private individuals, no action has been taken so far. Refalo has declined to say how the protected national heritage ended up in his back yard.

                           
                               
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viv
viv
16 days ago

The ‘ministry’ for tourism has a huge opportunity here – by merely working to its strengths.
Re-package Malta completely as a Mafia Theme-Park.
Visitors get to see the Mafia and its daily operations up close and personal.
”You Won’t Believe It Till You See It!”

KLAUS
KLAUS
16 days ago

Lazy police commissioner Angelo Gafá
For all those who are afraid for our police because of the lack of prosecution of Gozo Minister Anton Refalo: 

BED SORES
Meanwhile there are really very good powders and ointment against decubitus (bedsores).

Noel Ciantar
Noel Ciantar
16 days ago

It looks like a complete and delivered museum to me. Even in its unfinished state of permanent works in progress at escalating costs. A museum of Corruption and Abuse of Power. There for everyone to see with their own eyes. Let’s face it. With all the sleaze Malta has seen in public administration in the past 10 years, a permanent exhibition of it is in order, even if we hide it in Gozo.

All that remains for the Gozo museum to be enjoyed by the public in all its glory is the commissioning.

Oops!

I mean the inauguration by the Gozo Minister, surrounded by the good thieves, with a speech by Joe Debono Grech.

Last edited 16 days ago by Noel Ciantar
KLAUS
KLAUS
16 days ago
Reply to  Noel Ciantar

I love your idea of a Museum of Corruption and abuse of power!
It is a terrible good idea.

Emanuel (Noel) Ciantar
Emanuel (Noel) Ciantar
16 days ago
Reply to  KLAUS

It is on my “to do” list. But I will not sue for unfair competition if someone were to open one before I do.

Greed
Greed
15 days ago
Reply to  Noel Ciantar

And if there is a photo opportunity Noddy will surely be there if not once but twice

Alfred
Alfred
16 days ago

Alla jbirek taht dan il-Ministru ghal ghawdex kollox irdoppja u tripla fil-prezz. Min jaf ghaliex?

Last edited 16 days ago by Alfred
Emanuel (Noel) Ciantar
Emanuel (Noel) Ciantar
16 days ago
Reply to  Alfred

Blame it on “inflation” (l-gholi tal-hajja). Then a cheque signed by Robert Abela to all voters come the next election should be enough to silence everyone.

Last edited 16 days ago by Emanuel (Noel) Ciantar

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