Labour Gzira Mayor Conrad Borg Manche’, who also serves as chairman of the government’s environmental agency Ambjent Malta, has publicly slammed “the obscenities” being committed by both the Planning Authority and the Lands Authority by trying to relocate a small petrol station to part of the Council of Europe Garden – the overpopulated locality’s only remaining green lung.
In a hard-hitting social media post launching a petition against the relocation, Borg Manche’ revealed that according to scientific studies conducted by the Gzira council, the popular garden will become a no-go zone for children and its frequent visitors because of the emission of dangerous, carcinogenic fumes from the petrol station.
“This permit was moved forward by those who are supposed to see that such atrocities are not permitted. But it seems that they do not care about people and our children,” Borg Manche wrote in a frontal attack against the government authorities concerned.
Reiterating that the council had not been consulted about such an important decision, he aimed his guns at those who, through the project, “planned to tarnish my reputation because of envy,” the Labour mayor charged.
Borg Manche said that through the new petition and the ongoing fight against the petrol station’s relocation, “the whole truth will prevail” and “those who worked for this atrocity will pay for their actions”.
The Shift has reported how the Lands Authority, which falls under the political remit of Minister Silvio Schembri, informed the Gzira council several weeks ago that some 1,000 square metres of the seafront garden are to be allocated to the Manuel Island Service Station, which currently lies just 100 metres from the green space.
The petrol station is owned by businessman Simon Muscat, who enjoys very close connections with the Lands Authority.
Through another company, Cubed Turnkey Projects Ltd, Muscat and his partners have been the recipients of numerous direct orders for work connected to the same authority.
Such work included the refurbishment of the Auberge de Beviere in Valletta, the same government entity’s headquarters.
Lands Authority CEO Robert Vella has refused to give details on the connections between Muscat and the authority and has also turned down a Freedom of Information request about the tens of thousands of euros in payments Muscat has received from the authority over the past years.
Muscat is also believed to be very close to James Piscopo, the former Lands Authority CEO and aide to disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat. Although Piscopo has since parted ways with the authority, his connections with its top brass continue and he is still receiving several direct orders.
The authority is also refusing to reply to questions about a new, recently-issued tender to sell a parcel of public property located right across the street from Muscat’s current petrol station on the Gzira seafront.
Information on the bids submitted for the tender is, inexplicably, not appearing on the Lands Authority’s website.