€19 million in EU funds lost as Naxxar disability hub is still an excavation site

The government, through Agenzija Support, has lost its eligibility to some €19 million in EU funds committed by Brussels in 2016 to develop a services hub for persons with special needs in Naxxar.

Known as Project Reach, the project was first announced by the government in 2015 and was to have been finished by the end of 2023.

But since initial excavations in 2019, the project has been left at a complete standstill with no actual construction taking place, which has led the EU to pull the plug on €19 million in European Regional Development Funds that were meant to finance 80% of the project.

The government has so far not explained why the project has not yet been carried out and what the future holds for it. It has only cited legal issues and the discovery of archaeological remains, but no progress on either front has been reported for years.

The Shift is informed that some €5 million has already been spent on the site’s excavation, which was done by Bonnici Brothers.

But nothing has happened since the end of 2020, with workers not turning up on site – just outside the Naxxar Trade Fair Grounds – and the multi-million-euro EU-funded project being left in ruins.

Although in reply to a recent Parliamentary Question from Opposition MP Graziella Galea Inclusion and Social Wellbeing Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli insisted the government is still committed to the project, she did not elaborate or give details on when work on the site would resume or be completed.

Nor does it seem that any tangible progress on the hub could be expected in 2023, since the finance minister dedicated only the measly sum of €300,000 for the project in the last budget.

The Shift is informed that since the government did not manage to stick to the project’s original plans, EU funds are now no longer available and local funds will have to be deployed if the project is to continue.

The project – the brainchild of former Naxxar-based Minister Michael Farrugia, who was not reappointed to Cabinet after the last elections – has been criticised by the Naxxar community, NGOs for disabled persons and the Opposition.

The argument is that its very concept is based on antiquated practices of segregating disabled persons instead of integrating them into the community at large.

Even current Agenzija Support CEO, former Labour MP Oliver Scicluna, was against the project.

The project’s plans comprised the construction of four separate apartment blocks with 78 residential units, a large car park, a 26-room hostel, a restaurant, retail units and a therapy centre.

Although the Planning Authority approved the development application in 2017, no progress has been made beyond the site’s initial excavation.

                           
                           
                               
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Godfrey Leone Ganado
Godfrey Leone Ganado
28 days ago

An absolutely incompetent government. Gvern tal-foqra u l-batuti.
Julia Farrugia Portelli seems to have lost the mechanisms for this project, while Michael Farrugia has not yet managed to diagnose the problem.
The pity is that the EU will have to think deeply before considering any futue projects that will be applied for by Malta.
It would be better if these funds are directed to Ukraine for its growing needs to defeat Russia.

Out of Curiosity
Out of Curiosity
27 days ago

About time! I believe that Malta needs to re-allocate the €19M on other EU Funded Projects in time, otherwise they will be lost forever. By the way, the programme from which funds are made available, is set to close off by the end of this year. So hurry up!!!

Jac.Sm
Jac.Sm
27 days ago

Impressive how much money this country has lost 19 million here 100 million in ex Air Malta golden handshake packages just to name a few.

makjavel
makjavel
27 days ago

The minister is committed to do NOTHING.
Seems this government can only dig holes .
Gozo Hospital , still a hole.
Naxxar Disability Hub , still a hole ,
Malta’s Finances , a black hole of €10,000 MILLION.

Mick
Mick
26 days ago

I’m of the opinion that it was deliberate, as the site has likely been promised to one of the cabal for the erection of matchbox flats and supermarkets we really don’t need. There’s probably a planning application already in hand and contracts with developers who are part of this composite Mafia lined up, just keep an eye out, trust me.

J Spiteri
J Spiteri
26 days ago

Same will happen with the Msida Government Primary School. Work had stopped for months. Then most of the building which was erected had to be pulled down because an incompetent architect was involved. Work continued with just a few construction workers, and an accident took place where one of the workers fell and died, may he RIP. After which all works stopped again. Apparently if the school is not ready by end 2023, EU funds will be lost.

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