A Lands Authority tender for the sale of a massive green plot in the residential area of Mellieha known as il-Qortin includes a strange clause that points toward a behind-closed-doors deal that will see the green lung passed onto a still unknown third party for development into massive blocks of apartments worth millions of euros.
Investigations carried out by The Shift show that the almost 4,000 square metre site the Lands Authority is selling by tender includes a crucial clause stating that the plot “may be subject to the right known as the right of first refusal”.
The clause appears to let the proverbial cat out of the bag as it means that a third party who already owns a small section of the plot will be given the right to match any other offer made for the rest of it and to purchase the entire area at that price.
It is so far not known why this particular clause has been included in the tender as it is not usually employed when the land up for grabs is so much larger than any single privately-held part of the plot.
The Shift is informed that the clause had been inserted into the tender on the direct instruction of Lands Authority CEO Robert Vella.
Public tender already compromised
The Shift’s investigations show that a small part of the large green lung – which abuts onto Triq is-Saghatar, Triq il-Migbha and Wesghet in-Narcis – is already owned by a private third party.
Sources told The Shift that the private ownership of a small part of the plot, which the Authority has issued for sale, is only a tiny fraction of the entire plot and does not in any way justify the decision to offer a right of first refusal on the whole plot.
Pointing toward what could be a pre-determined deal, the holder of the small portion of the land will be able to take possession of the whole parcel of public land and make millions of euros out of it in the form of apartment blocks and shops.
The Shift does not yet know who currently owns the tiny parcel of land, although it is not being excluded that a development company is behind the deal.
Investigations show that at least until 2008, the parcel of land on which the Authority is now insisting on offering a right of first refusal was owned by Victor Bartolo – a known developer and speculator from Mellieha.
His application to the Planning Authority to turn his plot into apartments, garages and penthouses was shot down by the PA and, later, by the appeals board. All documents related to the case have somehow been removed from the PA’s online server.
It is unknown whether the plot changed hands in the past years or weeks, perhaps just in time before the Lands Authority put the large green plot up for sale by tender after decades of it being retained as an open space for Mellieha residents.
Parliamentary petition presented as Abela remains mum
So far, public objections to the Lands Authority’s sudden decision to sell the plot were met with complete silence from the responsible minister, Silvio Schembri, and Prime Minister Robert Abela.
A petition by the area’s residents was presented to parliament last week in a bid to halt the land sale.
According to PN MPs Ian Castillo and Robert Cutajar, who are both from Mellieha, it was nonsensical that a large green lung that has been spared from development for years is suddenly being turned into another apartment block development.
The MPs also questioned the government’s contradictory signals in which, on the one hand, it says it intends to develop more green areas in towns and villages, but on the other hand, it issues a tender for one of the few such remaining areas to be built up.
Tal misthija!! Art pubblika tinghata lil privat ghal karawett biex ikomplu jkerrhu ghad detriment tal pajjiz! Tal-misthija nerga nghid! Qabel ma iqum l-poplu mir raqda hekk ser ikomplu jaghmlu!
il-poplu bezziegh f’mafiamalta qatt ma jasal biex jieqaf lil dan il-gvern korrott. mafiamalta f’idejn erba’ hallelin, spekulaturi u ministri u shabbhom hallelin ta flus u l-art tal-poplu Malti.
soluzzjoni wahda biss hemm – li l-poplu jqum mir-raqda u li l-oppozzizzjoni tibda taghmel xogholha.
Kollha business flimkien qeghdin! L poplu ghadu ma irrealizzahiex din! U ehe l poplu Malti bezziegh!!
If we want more ‘green’ I bet we will need to paint all the outside walls in green paint!!!
At least, like that Mr. Abela would be keeping his promise 🙁
Thanks to the Shift we cannot say: We did not know.
Gvern Paxxut u Poplu Batut
Dan aktarx hu l-ewwel mega Project Green tad-Dalli li se jibbenefika mis-700 miljun ewro allokati għat-tħaddir u t-tisbiħ tal-pulmuni fil-qalba tal-lokalitajiet tagħna. Malta immexxija kompletament mill-kuntratturi ħbieb tal-Ministri. Tender ieħor imwiegħed minn qabel. Kollox moħmi u lest, u l-poplu jibla’.
There is a war going on in Malta between unscrupulous politicians/their pirate mafia buddies/construction companies on one side, and ordinary citizens on the other.