Transport Malta’s new board: Aaron Farrugia’s canvassers and constituents

All directors, without exception, are either important figures in Minister Farrugia’s electoral districts or even his official 'canvassers'.

 

In another clear instance of how Prime Minster Robert Abela is letting his ministers run roughshod over any semblance of ethics and accountability, Transport Minister Aaron Farrugia has installed a new board at Transport Malta replete with his personal ‘canvassers’ from his electoral districts.

An analysis of the composition of Transport Malta’s new board shows all the directors, without exception, are either important figures in Minister Farrugia’s electoral districts or even his official ‘canvassers’.

Replacing staunch Labour Party activists from the board who do not hail from Farrugia’s first and seventh electoral districts, the new 12-member board has been filled to the brim with the minister’s personal supporters and personalities popular in Valletta, Hamrun and Santa Venera.

Described as one of the most partisan and parochial boards ever appointed to a government entity, Transport Malta is becoming another extension of the minister’s constituency.

Most of the members of the new board of Transport Malta, one of the government’s most important agencies, have no knowledge of transport issues. This comes at a time when the country faces gridlock on most days and complaints about mismanagement dominate social media threads.

The exceptions are the appointment of Michael Callus as non-executive chairman, a retired low-key maritime industry insider, and former transport minister Joe Mizzi.

Mizzi, a veteran former Labour MP, was ousted from parliament by Robert Abela’s sister-in-law, Alison Zerafa Civelli, after he was not given a ministerial portfolio in Abela’s Cabinet.

The board also includes Labour councillors from Valletta, Hamrun, Santa Venera and Rabat.

Hamrun Mayor Christian Sammut, who declared his support for Aaron Farrugia’s first district candidacy, was named deputy chairman.

Liam Pace, a Labour Party activist and Valletta local councillor, was also made director. Pace works as a person of trust in the education minister’s secretariat.

Liam Pace with Valletta Mayor Alfred Zammit

Matthew Chetcuti, Labour’s Deputy Mayor of Rabat – important for Farrugia’s second electoral district, the seventh – was also given a post on Transport Malta’s board, together with Celine Vella, a diehard Labour activist from Santa Venera who is also active in the organisation of the locality’s religious feast.

New Transport Malta director Matthew Chetcuti

All the other members of Transport Malta’s new board hail from Farrugia’s constituencies. They include Lara Azzopardi, a young nurse and television actress whose mother, Angela Agius, is a veteran well-known personality in Hamrun thanks to her programmes on ONE TV and, later, PBS.

New Transport Malta director Lara Azzopardi, left, with her mother Angela Agius

They also include Godwin Grech, one of the minister’s canvassers from Zebbug, and Luca Gatt, who is from Hamrun and an activist for the Hamrun Spartans football club.

Godwin Grech with Minister Aaron Farrugia

To ensure the entire board is comprised of his supporters, Minister Farrugia also appointed Jason Mangani, a government employee seconded to Hamrun Spartans FC and a personal canvasser of Minister Farrugia, as well as Victor Dimech, who is also from Hamrun.

Jason Mangani, right, helping out Aaron Farrugia’s campaign

The only director who survived Farrugia’s reshuffle is Mariella Agius, an informal personal assistant to Michelle Muscat, the wife of disgraced former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.

Agius works at the Marigold Foundation and is the sister of Rodney Vassallo, a former One TV journalist now employed at PBS.

Sources close to the Labour Party told The Shift that the latest appointments at Transport Malta have “even disgusted many Labour supporters and other ministers who are seeing Farrugia becoming one of the most parochial ministers, only interested in his own interests rather than those of the Labour Party.”

The sources insisted, “This also reflects badly on the prime minister, who either lost control or is adamant on ousting all Labourites who are remotely connected to former Labour leader Joseph Muscat.”

Transport Malta frequently hits the headlines because of the gross mismanagement of transport across the country, as well as the serious claims of corruption and abuse surrounding the agency’s operations.

When under the political remit of Minister Ian Borg, Transport Malta had been used as an employment agency for the minister’s constituency, with hundreds of his potential voters having been put on the agency’s payroll.

Borg also used Transport Malta to issue tens of millions of euros worth of questionable direct orders, mostly to friends, constituents, and Labour Party activists.

After demoting Ian Borg from the lucrative transport portfolio to foreign affairs, the prime minister appointed former Armed Forces of Malta Brigadier Jeffrey Curmi as CEO in a bid to reign in the abuse running rampant at the agency.

Minister Farrugia’s move to impose his authority through the appointment of a new partisan board loyal to him is seen as an attempt to dent Curmi’s power.

                           
                               
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Paul Pullicino
Paul Pullicino
1 month ago

Malta is divided into 27 little corrupt kingdoms each with its head mogul. They all draw power from a common supercilious “Prime Minister” and a gutless President.They are accountable to no one.

makjavel
makjavel
1 month ago

We are saved. Only his district will get prioritity to get dug up and well and truly fucked .

Keith D'Amato
Keith D'Amato
1 month ago

Nies ta kwalita’ inferjuri min flushing tat-toilet imkisser.

David
David
1 month ago

Certainly that is why Transport Malta is in a shambles state. Incompetent people. So Corrupt. So shady. Shame on them.

Mark
Mark
1 month ago

Mela jien noqgħod naqla’ fwiedi nistudja għomri u nistanka għal dottorat biex nikkontribwixxi ġenwinament għall-pajjiż u l-Ministru, b’mod mill-aktar sfaċċat u inaċċettabbli, jaqbad u jqabbiżni b’nies li sa fejn naf jien m’għandhom l-ebda esperjenza jew kwalifika f’dan il-qasam.

Dan l-aġir mhux biss qed joħloq bord ta’ diretturi li mhumiex fit-for-purpose, mhux biss qed jippremja lill-inkompetenti, mhux biss qed iħeġġeġ iżjed gradwati jitilqu mill-pajjiż, mhux biss qed jibgħat messaġġ li l-ħatriet tal-gvern ma jsirux skont il-mertu, mhux biss qed iħeġġeġ l-għażż u t-tluq bikri mill-iskola… imma fuq kollox qed juri li għandna Ministru li l-uniku skop tiegħu hu wieħed maħmuġ u mnawwar b’mentalità servili li lil nies kompetenti u kwalifikati qed jittrattahom tat-tielet klassi u jpartathom mal-imbeċilli ta’ madwaru.

Mark
Mark
1 month ago

Il-poplu jrid jifhem li meta l-pajjiż ma jkunx immexxi mill-kwalifikat u mit-talent, l-affarijiet jimxu lura bil-kbir minn kull lat. U ma nistax nifhem kif din il-ħaġa l-poplu ma jirrealizzahiex.

Godfrey Leone Ganado
1 month ago

I wonder how these directors would pass an MFSA ‘due diligence’ test.
The office of director, together with the designation of director, should be subject to specific and stringent legislation.
We have rendered this status, a disgrace and an embarrassment with the outside world.
Many want to achieve social status with this title, and in the process, we have downgraded the title, while biblicaly ‘throwing it like pearls among pigs’.
QUO VADIS MALTA?

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